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How to make Cuapao with Pork Bola-bola and Salted Eggs

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Steamed white buns, boiled pork meatballs, slices of salty eggs and a dash of sweet hoisin sauce – put these all together and what do you get? Cuapao with Pork Bola-bola and Salted Eggs.  This is a variation of a favorite Filipino snack or meal, or whichever time of day your heart and belly desires these. When the all-Filipino member Kulinarya Cooking Club decided to have ‘salted red eggs’ for the month’s theme, it was not hard to think of dishes that could go with this delightful salty side. And yes, this is a very delectable condiment, its intense saltiness contrasts well with robust, sugary flavors of other ingredients.

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First, let me explain what salted eggs are. In the Philippines, which is a warm, tropical country, salting foods is done so they have a longer shelf life. Salted eggs is an example. Duck eggs are more commonly used because they are larger and have bigger yolks. My good friend Chef Day Salonga has a blog post on how to make homemade salted eggs. If you buy these Filipino salted eggs in the markets, the shells are dyed and colored a dark red-purplish hue to set them apart from the regular fresh chicken eggs sold alongside.

Here in America, I buy my salted eggs from the Asian supermarkets. The ones I find are not tinted red, but are in their regular white shells, preserved and packaged in plastic containers.These days, they are mostly made from chicken eggs, too. Once you get home, you should boil these salted eggs in water for 30 minutes and they are good to go. When cooked, peel and slice the boiled eggs. Each sliver gives off a sharp saltiness that goes well with ingredients of contrasting flavors. Pair it simply with fresh tomatoes and rice and you instantly have a savory meal.

I used my old cuapao recipe (open faced steamed buns) which I made for a beef asado snack a few months ago(see past post). Then I went around the KCC members and found a recipe for boiled ‘bola-bola’  or pork meatballs from fellow Filipina food blogger Tina, of the blog Pinay Cooking Corner. Everything came together quickly, thanks to these combined recipes from friends. Our Filipino palates and archived recipes make for delightful resources when the cravings hit. You’re going to enjoy this wonderful combination all together on this platter – savory, non-greasy boiled meatballs,  salty egg slices, thick and sweet hoisin sauce, all encased in a soft, billowy open-faced steamed bun. It was sheer heaven.

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Thanks for reading my entry to this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club event!

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KULINARYA was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colorful cuisine. Today, we are a group of Filipino food lovers from Sydney, the USA, Canada, the Philippines and all over the globe. Each month we showcase a dish based on a theme. For the month of February, our theme was the “salted egg”, a Filipino classic ingredient, side dish or entree in itself. By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

[purerecipe]

Cuapao with Pork Bola-bola and Salted Egg

Cuapao with Pork Bola-bola and Salted Eggs is an easy snack or meal to make. The cuapao (say 'kwah-paw') is the Asian slider. It is an open faced steamed bun and you can fill it up with any meat filling. In a previous post, I made a beef version. For this  recipe here, I put together boiled pork meatballs, which were a flavorful contrast to the slices of salted eggs encased in the soft white buns. Serve these with a side of hoisin sauce for dipping, and crushed peanuts for garnish. These  boiled meatballs were adapted from a recipe of fellow Filipina food blogger Tina from Pinay Cooking Corner. This is an Asian in America recipe and serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 pound peeled, deveined, tails removed, chopped (optional) fresh shrimps
  • 1/4 cup chopped fine yellow onions
  • 1/4 cup whites only, chopped fine scallions
  • 4 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon from Asian markets oyster sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon from Asian markets Xiao Xing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon from Asian markets sesame oil
  • 2 to 3 pieces boiled, peeled, sliced salted eggs
  • 18 to 24 pieces frozen, from Asian markets steamed buns
  • 1/4 cup for dipping (from Asian markets) hoisin sauce
  • 1 or 2 stems sliced for garnish scallions or green onions

Instructions

  • Use ready-made plain steamed buns which can be bought at Asian markets. If frozen, thaw at room temperature and set aside.
  • To prepare the pork meatballs: Mix together in a bowl the ground pork, chopped shrimps, garlic, onions, scallions, oyster sauce, rice wine, egg, flour, salt, pepper, sesame oil. Blend well.
  • Shape the pork mixture into 1-inch sized meatballs. Refrigerate for about 10 to 15 minutes so meatballs stay firm.
  • In a pot of boiling water seasoned with salt and pepper and briskly bubbling over medium high heat, toss in the pork meatballs. Cook by boiling for about  25 minutes. When cooked, drain and set aside (Note: Pork should be cooked thoroughly).
  • Prepare the salted eggs: Boil the store-bought salted eggs for 30 minutes in water. Drain and cool. Then peel off shells and slice the salted eggs. Set aside.
  • To assemble: Place the cuapao buns on a plate lined with damp paper towels under and over them. Microwave these cuapao buns for 1 minute till soft and warm. Take a warm cuapao bun and open it in half. Place one large meatball in the center together with a large slice of salted egg nestled next to it. Serve together with crushed peanuts, scallions for garnish and a side of hoisin sauce for dipping.
  • Ingredient substitute : if hoisin sauce is not available, substitute with 1/8 cup soy sauce mixed with a tablespoon of sugar, spritzed with the juice of a lemon. Also, if you don't have time to make the steamed cuapao buns from scratch, find the ready-made plain white buns in Asian markets, by the freezer section.
  • Cook's Comments: In the Philippines, the salted eggs sold in markets are tinted with a red colored shell and already cooked and boiled. Here in America, these red-shell salted eggs can be found in some Asian or Filipino groceries. Also, salted eggs sold these days are more often from chickens. If convenient, ask your seller which one you're getting -- duck or chicken eggs. These ones I used in the recipe and photographed were salted chicken eggs.

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    12 Comments

      1. Thanks, Chef Ray! So nice of you to give me such positive feedback. Yes, using an open-faced steamed bun like “cuapao” gives my family more options for the ‘palaman’ (filling) any way they choose. Also it’s easier for me. Glad you stopped by 🙂

    1. I’m not a huge fan of salted eggs (I love eggs tho) but your dish makes me want to give it a try! Looks so god with steamed buns and meatballs. You really know how to cook family comfort food Elizabeth!

      1. Hi Nami, if you prefer, you can use regular hard-boiled eggs for this Cuapao with Bola-bola on the steamed buns. The salted eggs are just super salty which add a contrast to the non-greasy boiled meatballs here. Thanks for the kindest comments – I enjoy cooking for my family & glad you like these selections, too!

      1. Thanks, Tina – I couldn’t have done this without your unique Bola-bola recipe. I was trying to figure out how to cook the meatballs before putting into the buns. Your recipe was so delish. Thanks for letting me use it & posting about it. Nice of you to stop by 🙂

    2. It’s the same thing here in NZ, salted eggs are not tinted red. They come boiled or raw, depends on where to buy. The same goes in Beijing as we lived there for about 5 years.

      A bit different though when I was in Brunei. The eggs were all covered in mud 🙂

      Yummy cuapao by the way… looks filing, too!

      1. Thanks, Iska. What great info on how salted eggs are sold in different cities. That’s a blog post in itself – how salted eggs are sold in Asia! Yes, the cuapao was so good & a hit at our dining table. Glad you came by 🙂

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