Editor’s note: Amy Jo Ehman will return. We are happy to have Diana Chan as a guest columnist while Amy Jo is away.
Sizzling fried rice and crispy breaded pork chops topped with a flavourful tomato-based sauce and gooey cheese, all baked together in the oven. Gook joo pah fan, or baked pork chop rice, is a very popular quintessential Hong Kong dish that can be found in casual Chinese cafés called cha chaan teng all over Hong Kong and Macau. It may seem a bit peculiar at first to see fried rice together with cheese, but it’s a perfect, and might I add delicious, example of how Chinese and western influences meet in Hong Kong cuisine.
With a mom from Macau and a dad from Hong Kong, I ate, if possible, more than my fair share of this dish while growing up in Vancouver, B.C. (With a large Chinese population, Vancouver has an abundance of all sorts of Chinese restaurants.) But now that I’m living in Moose Jaw, Sask., I find myself far from any cha chaan teng and so I set out on a bit of a mission to replicate this family favourite in my own kitchen.
This dish has three parts to it, but do not be intimidated. I promise you — it’s worth the effort! The secret to proper fried rice is you actually need cold, preferably leftover, rice. If you use freshly cooked rice, you’ll end up with mushy fried rice. For breading the pork chops, I use flaky Japanese-style panko bread crumbs, which you can find in any chain supermarket. However, you can substitute with regular unseasoned store-bought or homemade bread crumbs.
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1/2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 c. low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 can (156 ml) tomato paste
- 1/2 c. ketchup
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1-1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with
- 2 tsp. lukewarm water
- 2 tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 4 c. cold cooked jasmine rice, refrigerated for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight (1-1/2 cups uncooked rice)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 4 boneless pork loin chops
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. panko bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper
- Canola oil for frying
- 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
First, cut up onion into large chunks for the sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the onion with the oil until the onion starts to turn translucent. Lower the heat and stir in the chicken stock, cornstarch mixture, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and sugar. Let it gently simmer with a lid on for 10 minutes. Chop up tomato into roughly bite-size pieces, toss them in, and let the sauce simmer for another few minutes uncovered. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Next is the fried rice. In a bowl, whisk eggs together with salt. Heat up the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, add your rice and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Now create a well in the middle of the rice and pour in the eggs. Very casually start stirring the eggs into the rice and then stir-fry it all together for a few minutes. Spread the fried rice into either a 9-inch pie plate or a casserole dish.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and start heating up oil for frying pork chops. If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can use a wok, a large pot or deep-walled saucepan. You’ll need at least an inch of oil heated to 325 to 350 F.
Using a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin, pound the pork chops between some cling wrap until they are about 3/4 inch thick. Set out three large plates: one for the eggs, which have been lightly beaten, one for the flour, and the final one for the breadcrumbs. Season the pork chops with some salt and pepper and then one by one, dredge in the flour, making sure you completely coat the pork chop. Next, dip into the egg, again making sure it’s completely coated, and then press into the bread crumbs. Fry the pork chops one or two at a time (you don’t want to crowd the oil) for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Let the pork chops rest for a couple of minutes on some paper towel and then cut each into 1-inch strips.
Finally, it’s time to assemble everything together. Scatter the strips of pork over the rice and then pour the sauce all over top. Sprinkle on the cheeses and then pop into the oven for 20 minutes. Enjoy!