Que-kiam is another popular Chinese dish adopted into Filipino cuisine. Locally known as kikiam, it is made with ground pork and vegetables wrapped in bean curd sheets then deep-fried until golden. I’ve wanted to cook this dish for some time now but finding the bean curd wrapper, or tawpe, had been quite a problem. Until last Sunday.
My husband and I were in Quezon City canvassing prices for the hardware of my new computer. I’m bequeathing my two-year-old laptop to my kids so I’m getting a replacement. Since I don’t work in an office anymore, I really don’t need another laptop. I want a fully loaded desktop with a 17″ or 19″ flat screen monitor. There is a three-story building along Gilmore Avenue that houses at least a dozen computer stores. The problem was parking. We had to look for available parking space within the vicinity but not too far from the computer stores. We found ourselves in front of an Oriental store. There was a sign that said “Parking for customers only”. Ok, fine. I suggested we get something to drink so that we would be bona fide customers entitled to the parking slot. We could just then proceed to the computer stores. Drinks were all we intended to buy. But when we entered the store, we stayed a little longer. And bought a lot. The bean curd sheets for the kikiam, Japanese green tea, oriental noodles, soy paste, rice vinegar… Most of the ingredients one reads in cookbooks or hear about in Chinese TV shows were there. Plus, they had all sorts of frozen dumplings and even fresh sea cucumber. The store’s name was… I can’t remember. Sorry.
Anyway, that was how I got my ingredients for the kikiam I cooked tonight.
1/2 k. of ground lean pork
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. of finely chopped garlic
1 medium-sized carrot, finely chopped
3 tbsps. of soy paste
1 tbsp. of brown sugar
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
4 pcs. of tawpe (bean curd sheets)
1 tsp. of cornstarch cooked in 1/4 c. of water to form a paste
1-1/2 c. of cooking oil
Cooking procedure :
Soak the tawpe in cold water for five minutes to soften. Drain and carefully dry with paper towels.
Mix together the pork, garlic, onion, carrot, soy paste, salt, pepper, sugar and beaten egg. Divide into four portions.
Lay a piece of tawpe and place 1 portion of the meat mixture at the center. Shape the meat mixture into a log. Brush all the sides of the tawpe with the cornstarch paste. Roll tightly, folding the sides inward as you roll. Repeat for the rest of the meat mixture and tawpe.
Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet or wok until it starts to smoke. Carefully lower the tawpe-covered meat into the hot oil. Allow an interval of 60 seconds before adding the next, and so on. Fry over high heat until golden, about 8-10 minutes, letting the kikiam roll in the hot oil for even cooking and color. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with sweet-and-sour sauce.
For the sweet-sour sauce :
3 tbsp. of vinegar (you may need more if using mild-strength vinegar)
6 tbsp. of sugar
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of chili sauce (Tabasco is ok)
1 tbsp. of tomato paste
1 tbsp. of cornstarch
1 c. of water
sesame seed oil
In a small saucepan, mix together all ingredients for the sweet-sour sauce. Set over medium-high heat until thick and the cloudiness has disappeared. In another saucepan, heat 1 tsp. of oil. Add carrots. Stir for a minute. Add bell pepper, onion, tomato, ginger and garlic. Stir for 15 seconds. Pour in the sweet-sour and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add a few drops of sesame seed oil. Pour over fried fish. Serve at once.