Steamed Pork Loaf with Salted Fish

What goes around comes around. When I was growing up in Chicago many years ago, my mother used to serve salted fish regularly. It was nutritious and cheap. She often served it in this variation of steamed pork loaf. The inexpensive fish extended the pork loaf, as it were, while its briny spiciness added depth to the robust flavour of pork.

Because of the salted fish, the mixture stood up well even with our primitive refrigeration. To me, it tasted better served two days later.

The salted fish is available at Chinese grocers in dried form and in jars of oil. If you are using the dried salted fish, be sure to soak it in warm water for 20 minutes before chopping; the salted fish in oil does not need soaking – simply drain it.


  • 450 g (1 lb) fatty minced pork
  • 450 g (1 lb) fresh water chestnuts, peeled and coarsely chopped, or 350 g (12 oz) canned water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped, drained salted fish in oil or soaked dried fish
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a food processor, mix the pork with the water chestnuts until they are finely chopped. Scrape this mixture into a large stainless steel bowl and toss in the spring onions, chopped fish and ginger, then pour in the soy sauce and rice wine. Toss in the salt, sugar, cornflour, sesame oil and pepper. Mix well with your hands. Turn the loaf onto a heatproof, deep plate and form into a flat loaf shape. Set up a steamer by putting a rack inside a wok or deep pan. Fill it with about 5 cm (2 in) of water. Bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Gently set the platter with the loaf in the steamer, cover and steam vigorously for 25 minutes, or until the pork is done. Serve immediately.