Say it with us: Zi Char. As in, tse-chah. In case you don’t know, it’s a popular Singaporen cooking style influenced by home-cooked meals. It’s based loosely on Chinese cuisine, peppered with other Asian influences. Zi Char dishes are widely available in the Lion City, and they are sought-after for their ingenuity and hefty servings, which are perfect for large groups. But since you’re staying safe at home and can’t travel freely to Singapore at the moment, you’ll be happy to know that you can definitely reimagine the popular cuisine at home and share them with the fam!
Among the many options you can try, here’s something to get you started: Coffee Pork. Yup, it has *coffee* as one of its main ingredients! What do you say, fellow coffee junkies—doesn’t it sound delicious?
To pull it off, you have three main procedures to follow: marinating the meat, making the coffee sauce, and combining them together. Check out this recipe from Visit Singapore, an online community for all things Singapore:
Marinating The Meat
- 600g pork loin
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 piece of egg
- Pinch of white pepper
- 4 to 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- Approximately ½ cup water
1. Slice pork into small pieces, following a 45-degree angle, and then put them in a bowl.
2. Add the following into the bowl: baking soda, five-spice powder, salt, oyster sauce, sesame oil, egg, white pepper, and cornstarch.
3. To help the pork absorb the marinade, add a splash of water and massage it using your hands. Make sure to keep the marinade moist but not watery!
4. Once done, let it sit in the refrigerator for at least six hours.
Making the coffee sauce
- 200ml water
- 25g honey
- 50g to 100g sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
- 75g tomato ketchup
1. In a saucepan, mix everything together: water, honey, sugar, coffee powder, and ketchup. Let it simmer.
2. Cook until it thickens and set aside once done.
Combining the meat and coffee sauce
- Oil (for deep frying)
- 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
- Cucumber slices (optional)
1. Prepare a wok, put in enough cooking oil for deep frying, and allow it to heat up.
2. Deep fry the marinated pork pieces until they turn golden brown. Drain the excess oil and then set the pork aside.
3. In a saucepan, heat up the coffee sauce until it becomes bubbly. Finally, add in the fried pork pieces and coat them well. Transfer to a serving plate after.
4. Before serving, top it off with roasted sesame seeds and some sliced cucumbers, if desired.
Need a video *tutorial* to help you follow through better? We got you! Visit Singapore has one for it, featuring celebrity-slash-restaurateur Marvin Agustin and Singaporean chef and restaurateur Bjorn Shen. There, the two of them show how Coffee Pork is done, throwing in some cooking tips and Zi Char info from time to time! Watch the video below:
Once you’re done trying out Coffee Pork, give Visit Singapore’s other Singapore Reimagined dishes a try—like Cereal Prawns and Seafood White Bee Hoon—and master the art of Zi Char in no time!