I remember when she made these little 'Roti Babi' (literal translation: Pork Bread), my cousins and I will wait eagerly at the kitchen door, and snap them up as soon as they were out of the pan. We even perfected the art of juggling the piping hot sandwich between our hands, so as to make sure that they were cooled sufficiently before they were devoured. They were greasy, savoury, crispy on the outside, and filled with goodness in every bite. They taste of camaraderie, childhood and comfort.
30 years down the road, I was jolted back to way back then when my mum-in-law happened to mention 'Roti Babi' at the dinner table one day - and how much my husband used to love them when his Mama made these. It's funny how life goes, sometimes. I never knew that these were also an essentially Nonya treat, made during special occasions because back in the olden days, the preparation was quite labour intensive.
Last night, I made these based on how I remember my Oma used to make them.
I share with you my pocketful of memories.
ROTI BABI (Savoury Pork Sandwiches)
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yields: 8 large pieces
- 250 gr shoulder pork, minced.
- 200 gr crab meat, flaked
- 5 large eggs
- 1 white onion, sliced finely
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1½ tbs cornstarch
- 1 tbs dark soya sauce
- 1 tbs light soya sauce
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 50 gr butter
- Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- Dash of Lea & Perrins Worchestershire sauce
- Day old loaf of bread, preferably unsliced
1. Now that I have my Philips JO Food Processor, I prefer to buy a cut of pork instead of getting the ready minced ones. I like that I'm able to control how 'chunky' or fine I would like the mince to be.
2. I thawed frozen crab meat from the supermarket (NO, I'm not digging meat out of crabs!) and drained the water out. Make sure that they are as dry as you can get them to be, otherwise you'll end up with a soggy sandwich.
3. I marinated the pork with one egg, cornstarch, dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, cracked pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Add the crab meat and mix in gently - you don't want to end up with only crab bits! Set aside.
4. Using a wok or heavy bottomed pan, sauté the garlic in some olive oil. When they turn fragrant, put the butter in. Add in the onions, and stir fry till they turn translucent. The olive oil not only enhances the flavour of the dish, it also prevents the butter from browning too quickly.
At this stage, put the meat mix in, and stir fry till meat turns brown. Add the sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Once cooked, leave to cool completely.
6. I tried to find old fashioned bread loaves, but I couldn't manage to get unsliced ones. There is a little 'bakery' just off Balestier, behind the gaudy coffeeshop painted with Tiger stripes - which sells these and supplies to most of the coffee shops, but they were closed when I dropped by. Short of baking my own bread *faint* I had to settle for an alternative.
7. I sliced the bread thick, and cut it in half. Use a pair of scissors to snip off the centre of the bread slice to make a little 'pocket'. Stuff the filling in.
Shallow-fry the pieces over low heat until both sides are golden brown. Dish out and drain well.
Serve roti babi with your favourite dipping sauce. I like mayo with mustard and ketchup!