A family recipe from dad's side, we have always known this better in Hokkien as "oh bak" translated to mean dark-colored pork, a color very much given by the seasonings used - the light soy sauce and plenty of both sweet and salty dark soy sauces. This is one of the few things that has got etched rather easily in my heart as early as the very first time I had a try at it.
Tender pork tenderloin sliced thinly and drenched in a gravy both sweet and salty pleasantly balancing one another, this is further enhanced with a tinge of spiciness and pungency brought about by the heaps of white pepper powder used. Although loving spicy food is hardly an inborn personality trait, I must have had enough exposure of it through the years growing up. So despite me being a kiddo, I had always seemed to be tolerating this dish really well. So much so that whenever this dish made it to the dining table, I was almost on every occasion the last person to leave the table, polishing the plate of this dish with some plain white rice and grinning satisfyingly - an understated satiety.
Peppered Pork Tenderloin 胡椒肉
1.5lbs pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup water
light soy sauce to taste
1½ tbsps cooking oil
3 tbsps light soy sauce
1½ tbsp sugar
2 tsps sweet dark soy sauce (I used ABC kecap manis)
2 tsps dark soy sauce
2 tsps corn starch
enough white pepper powder to form a layer covering the meat
1. Begin with preparing the meat. Have them sliced thinly against the grain to ensure tenderness at its best.
2. In a bowl, marinate the meat with the marinade minus the white pepper powder.
3. Finish with covering the top of the bowl with a generous amount of white pepper powder forming a layer about 1 to 2mm of thickness. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and leave to marinate. These are best marinated well ahead of time. I usually have mine marinated in the morning and left refrigerated until cooking time.
4. Prior to cooking, lightly wet a spoon and fold the meat to mix in the white pepper powder, breaking down any clumps in the process. Heat up a skillet with the cooking oil. Add in the minced garlic and stir fry until fragrant and browned lightly.
5. Add in the meat and stir to separate the pieces. Stir-fry until the meat changes color, about 80% cooked.
6. Add in water, cover with the lid and let simmer for a minute or two to cook thoroughly.
7. Remove lid and add in light soy sauce to taste. Let simmer for a while more until the water dries out a little.
8. Dish out and serve hot with a bowl of plain rice.