This must-have dish from San Francisco restaurateur Charles Phan of Slanted Door, Out the Door and Heaven’s Dog could be an umami icon: salted fish over savory ground pork and ginger sticks epitomize the idea of savory. Serve with steamed rice and sautéed bok choy.
What to buy: Phan uses salted mackerel, which can be found in many Asian (especially Chinese) markets, either in the frozen section or packed in oil on the shelf. If you can’t find salted mackerel, Phan suggests using any salted fish, called haam yee or hom yu at Chinese grocers. Salted anchovies or sardines, available at most grocery stores, are also good substitutes for salted mackerel.
Special equipment: If you don’t have a large wok and/or large bamboo steamer, make your own steamer: Take two pieces of aluminum foil 24 inches long and roll and crease each widthwise into a piece 1 inch thick. Form each piece into an S shape and place both in a large skillet or large straight-sided saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add an inch of water and bring to a boil. Continue the recipe by placing the heatproof dish on the aluminum coils rather than in a bamboo steamer.
- Yield: 4 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: About 30 mins
- 1/2 pound boneless country pork ribs or ground pork
- 3 medium shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and finely chopped
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fish sauce, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 piece of salted mackerel (2 x 1 inch long and 1/2 inch thick) or 5 anchovy fillets
- 1 piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, then cut into very thin matchsticks
- Basic steamed white rice, for serving
- Fill a large wok with 1 inch of water and place a large bamboo steamer inside. (The water should not touch the bottom of the steamer.) If you don’t have a wok or a bamboo steamer, use a large frying pan and aluminum foil as described above in “Equipment special”. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, if using country ribs, chop the meat with a knife or cleaver until very thin and mushy.
- Place the pork (minced or ground) in a medium bowl. Add the mushrooms, shallot, fish sauce, cornstarch, oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Check that the mixture is well seasoned by forming a small thin pancake. Brown it in the pan until the center is no longer pink. Taste, add extra fish sauce, salt or pepper as needed, keeping in mind that there will be extra salt in the dish from the salted fish.
- Place the pork mixture in a lightly rimmed heatproof dish (to hold the juices) about 8 inches in diameter. Press the pork into the dish to form a large patty, 1/4 inch thick. If using salted mackerel, place it in the center of the pork patty. If using anchovies, scatter them in a single layer over the top of the pork patty. Sprinkle evenly with ginger and drizzle with a little olive oil. Carefully place the dish in the bamboo steamer or on the foil coils. Cover the wok or skillet with a tight-fitting lid or a sheet of aluminum foil and steam until the mixture is just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with rice.