Thursday, 10 April 2014

Yuk Sung a la Parsnips

I've been making Yuk Sung for years now, it's something that's easy to cook, and very very tasty while still being relatively healthy. What I did below isn't authentic (use this recipe for the traditional version!), but I adapted it to my tastes (and my boyfriends too) so this is my recipe....

  • 500g minced pork
  • 1 Iceberg lettuce
  • 4-5 spring onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 5-6 chestnut mushrooms (you can really add as many or as few as you want, I used the whole box!)
  • 50g unsalted cashew nuts
  • 1 small leek
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp  Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

So lets start with the veg. My boyfriend doesn't like water chesnuts (much to my sadness!) so instead I add some cashews.... they're wonderfully rich and go really well with this dish. Garlic and spring onions are a must, and to up the veg quota I often add mushrooms. On this occasion I added a leek too, because I needed to use it up and pork with leek is a match made in heaven (pork and leek Chinese dumplings are to die for!) so it tasted divine! All of the veg go into the food processor and get pulsed until they're finely chopped then the cashews go in at the end to get roughly chopped. Obviously you can do this by hand but it takes ages! I normally add fresh grated ginger too, but I forgot to buy any... still tasted lush!
The veg goes in the wok with a bit of vegetable or sunflower oil and is cooked until soft.... the mushrooms are so full of liquid that they need a while to cook, you need to cook off most of the vegetable liquid!
The all important pork mince! I use fatty pork mince for most Asian recipes because I'm all about flavour, and fatty pork has the best flavour (sausages yeah?!) and it's really cheap. If you're trying to be healthy then obviously use lean minced pork, it's super yummy (I've used lean many times), but I'd up the flavour factor with extra spring onion / ginger / garlic! Add the pork to the veg and cook until the pinkness has gone then add the flavourings...
I never measure my ingredients so try my suggestions and then add more to taste if it's not strong enough for you! One of the big flavours in Yuk Sung is Shaoxing wine, but regular sherry works equally well if you don't want to buy this in specially. About 3 tablespoons of wine go in to the wok. A big slug (3 tablespoons) of oyster sauce is essential (the little sachets of oyster stir fry sauce work really well if you don't wanna buy a whole bottle!). A teaspoon of sesame oil for flavour, a teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice and a tablespoon of honey.
I use dark soy for richness and light soy for saltyness. This really is down to taste so add about a tablespoon of each and then you can add more if needs be!
The mixture will be quite wet by now, so you need to let it cook until the juices have thickened....
the texture should become more mince-like and crumbly with a small amount of thick sauce, then it's ready!
Traditionally Yuk Sung is served in lettuce leaves, Iceberg to be precise and it doesn't wilt when it's mixed with hot food so it's perfect. Mini gem leaves would be very attractive but I don't think the flavour works as well. The fiddly bit is separating the iceberg lettuce into leaves.... particularly with this one because it was DEFORMED! It's not always so hard, honest, but if you can't be arsed you could chop the lettuce and put it in a bowl like a salad with the mince on the top (I've done this many times!).
Spoon the mince into the lettuce leaves as if they were bowls!
Serve them up all juicy and delicious! This is enough for 2 very greedy people for a main evening meal, or 4 not so greedy people as a lunch.

Honestly this is such a lovely combo, but if you need to make the mince go further (or don't like iceberg lettuce; fair enough it's gross 90% of the time!) then add the mince to noodles... rice noodles are better than egg noodles in this case.... and you'll have enough to feed 4 greedy people!


  1. I love Yuk Sung! So does my beau!

    This is wonderful, thank you for the recipe, I will definitely try it out.

    I also love using lettuce leaves in replacement of normal wraps...tastier, healthier and crunchier! Mmm!

  2. Do you have the recipe for the original version please - there's a runtime error on the link. Thanks