Friday, December 24, 2010

Pork Caul Rolls

Christmas has been celebrated in my home dating as far back to my great great grandpa's days. They were converts even while their feet were still in China.

In the yonder years, my grandpa would have an open house on this day. Inviting non believing friends and family over for a meal. They'd cook and cook non stop for a day. The whole house was filled with people.
And the tableware and utensils in the house is enough to open up a small scale restaurant.
According to my aunts, Christmas was celebrated on a much larger scale than Chinese New Year. Very lively and a very much anticipated event by relatives each year. I've never been to one, as he passed away not long after my parents got married. Even my eldest brother has never seen grandpa.

Ever since my grandpa went back to heaven,  it was no longer done on such a scale, but more on a family basis only. We'd go to church in the morning, then it will be followed by a lunch at a local restaurant. We are Chinese and we eat like Chinese do, with fish, prawns, chicken and pork, as hams, cakes and pies are of Western origin, and the real meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with snow, santa or reindeers. The meal was just a get together for the family to celebrate God's goodness to the whole family.

When Swee San organized her giveaway, I was struck for a while. I don't have a favourite Christmas dish, nor a favourite bake. As Christmas has never been about turkey, cookies or pies at home. Not even now.  Until I thought of Grandpa's Christmas Banquets. There must have been some special dishes.
So, I called up my aunts, both Big and Small. Sadly, the memory of the banquets have faded away. They could only tell me, the food is like Chinese wedding banquets, with fish, chicken, prawns and stuff. Big Aunt recalled her favourite dish from the banquet, the pork caul rolls and Small Aunt recalled cabbage soup. Big Aunt only has faint memory of the rolls, saying it was made with pork caul (猪网油) and crispy and nice. Tasted very "Sin 鲜" with some waterchestnuts.She told me, during those times, eating deep fried foods is a treat and on usual days, there are rarely deep fried foods at home. She could recall no further, so I had to come up with a replica on my own.

How? How?

I had no idea so, I tried to make it with just a simple description of pork caul, might have prawns, might have waterchestnuts, deep fried and crunchy. That's all the hint I got!!! And I've never eaten one! That's the problem.

I called up mom asking her to help me get her butcher to reserve some pork caul for me.
And I went back home to my family's house, where the banquets were held and dug out those plates that were used to serve guests on Christmas that time. Let's try to be as close to that time as possible, memorable food with memorable plates. No joke, the serving plates you see on this post today were my grandpa's.

What's pork caul? Here's a pic. It's 猪网油 in Chinese. It's the fat lining of the pic's stomach. Fat!!! Cholesterol!!!! But then, it's festive food, so, chuck that aside for a day. To prepare the pork caul, wash and squeeze them dry. Discard thick tough bits and use only the pretty netting. Spread it out on your cutting board and cut into sizes enough to wrap up the filling. I cut them about 6X10 inch each. About that size.

Then I made up the filling

1 cup minced pork
2/3 tsp salt
dash of pepper
3 water chestnuts, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped carrots
3 Tbsp sliced green onions
3 Tbsp chopped Chinese mushrooms
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg

Mix and marinate everything together
and then, the prawns

1 cup coarsely chopped prawns
small pinch of baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Marinate the prawns separately for half an hour and combine with pork mixture.
Put in 2 heaped Tbsp of filling onto each piece of cut pork cault and wrap it up like rolls.

Then heat up a wok of oil and deep fry until golden.

Wait................ something seems not right. Big Aunt says it's crispy. How come the whole thing looks like sausage? Not crispy at all!!! It's not like what Big Aunt says it is.


Something's not right!!!!! Then my sister in law brought some to her mom to try. Her mom is another kitchen guru, and she told me, I should've rolled up in lesser pork caul, then dredge in egg and lastly dust with tapioca flour before deep frying!!!!


What can I do? Do another batch? I don't think so, it's so cholesterol laden that once is enough for this month. It may not be an exact replica of Grandpa's Christmas specialty, but I made it with grandpa in heart.
May not be pretty, may not be as tasty, but sigh....................... broke my heart. Wasted. Not only the ingredients for this dish, but whatever great dishes that our forefathers have done, it's no longer remembered and done the way it should've been. Lost and gone with time. I really wished I could just recreate whatever that was described by Big Aunt.

Well, whatever the outcome, this is a so called failed replica of my Big Aunt's favourite Christmas dish, pork caul rolls. I'm still submitting this to Swee San.

Here, I share with you one of my favourite Christmas Carols,
O Holy Night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Happy Holidays and I won't be blogging for more than a week!!!
Need a break.
See you in 2011 but I'll still be checking for comments


  1. Good try but this is something that I will not try to cook at home, too high cholestrol, hehehe! Wishing a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year to you and all at home.

  2. These little homemade sausages look delicious! I really wish could make it for this xmas but it seems like not enough time to prepare already. May be I will try it for Chinese New Year. Thanks for sharing and happy holiday to yo! Meery Christmas and have a blessed one!

  3. Thanks for the entry Wendy, yes~!! oodles of cholesterol lol.. I've seen pork caul, but nv cooked with it before. sounds scary !! haha but it's a dish close to heart; thanks again :)

  4. These rolls look so good!! I doubt we can get caul in Australia. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and your family, Wendy!

  5. 我家也是用猪网油来包春卷的,真的超好吃的哩~

  6. OMG, have been searching for this recipe for ages. This is my mom's specialty dish every CNY. Well, my mom is no more around and really missed this dish. Yes, she will cut into smaller cubes, coat with tapioca flour and then deep fry. :D

  7. hey Wendy,

    dun be discouraged ya! These pork caul rolls still look really good. I wouldn't mind taking a bite. Its a commendable effort =]

    I always learn something new everynow and then when I drop by your blog. Thanks for sharing your knowlegde and experiences.

    Merry Xmas and I am sure you have a great time feating! cheers =]

  8. These pork caul rolls look really delicious, how I wish I can make for my family during CNY. Thanks for sharing this Wendy. I would like to wish you and your family merry christmas and happy new year!

  9. it looks totally delicious....
    i'm drooling now.....

  10. Many of the restaurant chefs here used pork caul in their meat dishes. That is a nice adaptation of your grandfather dish. Wishing you and your family A Merry and Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!!

  11. FINALLY! You're taking a long break, dai gah jeh ...

    This is an eye-opening post. I don't think I've tried pork caul rolls before ... Maybe I have also gao chor jor ... Faulty memories ...

    K lah ... Merry X'mas again to you, Mike, Lydia and Lyanne and the sai lou inside your tummy la ... Missing you!

  12. merry xmas wendy and your family and the little one who's on the way! have a fabulous xmas!

  13. Wendy, the pork caul rolls looks good even though looks like fat and giant sausage but still making me drooling! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  14. Despite what you said about the taste, they sure look very good! Here's wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

  15. The caul looks like lace:D and the final product looks delicious too! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas :D

  16. I haven't eaten these in years. My granma made the best I ever tasted.

    Have a blessed Christmas and a wonderfully delicious new year ahead!

  17. Merry Christmas, today i juz eat that, but not use pork caul, my friend use Bacon to cover it, like u recipe, thanks for sharing^^

  18. Hello Dear Wendy! They look beautiful and do not be hard on yourself for I think the spirit of your Grand Dad was there and that was the most important! You are sweet to share such a cool memory and even sweeter to honor the traditions of past....inventing as you go along.... what every good chef should do! Merry Merry! xoxo Megan

  19. Enjoy your holiday and take a good rest.

  20. this is my first time seeing pork caul.did the butcher cut this up for you? so nicely cut..also resembles some kind of a christmas decor.I've seen the reply that you put on swee san's blog earlier regarding the flower tea and i went to check at jusco last few days. It can only be used once for making a pot of tea..maybe a liter and then keep the flower for decorations in a pot filled with would last for some time..would be nice to give as a gift.

    wishing you a very happy christmas and have a good time with your family!!

  21. Wow this looks scrumptious. I wonder if I can get the pork caul at local butcher here in Melbourne. Think this will work well with ngor hiang as well. Something we always cook for Chinese New Year. Thanks for the recipe. Love your blog.

  22. Jenn @ ChasingFoodDreamsDecember 27, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    Oo.. simply divine! can't wait to try this out..
    Holiday time is for indulgence =)

    Happy Holidays to you & yr family!

  23. He he, made this before, mine tasted ok only, must try again!

  24. Wendy, that pork fat net looks so GOOD! I could easily imagine how tasty these would have tasted!
    Happy New Year!

  25. Nice photo of the pig's caul. When I was small & didn't know the actual name of the marbled intestinal membrane, I called it pig's net. Incidentally, the Peranakans call the caul 'pang sayew', & use it to wrap 'Hati babi bungkus' (pork & liver balls).

    However, the ingredients you used & your "accidental" non-crispy frying style are exactly how I remember these minced pork rolls. I also like them steamed, so that I can better savour the marbled membrane. It's been a very long time since I ate these crunchy rolls.

    pigwhisperer from Brazil has an interesting way of using pig's caul -- she wraps it around an entire turkey for roasting. Well ... I suppose you now have a good excuse to feature turkey for your X'mas banquets !

  26. if i were you, i'll smoke it instead of roasting....
    can't wait to ask my buther to save the aul for me...
    i like to buy the stomach but asked the buther to discard the fat layer,what a shame...

  27. i like to buy a pig stomach and asked the butcher to discard the caul, what a shame...
    i hink the pork roll will turn out great on smoking...


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