Archive for the 'Pork' Category

17
Oct
13

Water Spinach Stem with Black Bean Pork Sauce

seasoned by pork...

seasoned by pork…

“Our friend is a pescetarian. She only eats seafood, so no chicken, beef, or pork. Especially pork.”

“Ok, so the daikon and ginger soup is ok?”

“No, there are pork bones in it.”

“So, if I take the bones out, then it will be ok? It’s just flavoring.”

I’ve just spent the last twenty minutes trying to explain to my relatives what it means to be pescetarian and the restrictions involved.

“Forget it, yes pork flavoring is ok, but I think tonight is the night I show them the night market instead of dinner at home.”

My parents grew up in a very traditional setting when it comes to food. Both of my parents grew up in the Southern region of Taiwan and both come from large families. In order to have fully flavorful and affordable meals at the table, both my grandmothers utilized meat to season vegetable dishes to ensure all 7 and 8 kids where happy. And to do this, they would buy pork and stretch it over a few dishes. It made sense to have pork as a flavoring agent; unlike chicken, pork has more fat and marbleization to flavor the vegetables. Beef would be too gamey and would compete against the other flavors, as well as being expensive and a waste of a work animal.

So, it’s no wonder why everything I ate growing up had some sort of portion of the pig in it: belly, foot, ear, loin, etc. It’s been sliced, ground, chopped, and cured.

This dish is one of those two-out-of-one-ingredients-money-saver-frugal dishes . It utilizes the stems of the water spinach. If you’re not familiar with water spinach, it’s also known as “morning glory” and “Chinese water spinach”. If you want to make this vegetarian, you can use extra firm tofu. If you can’t find water spinach, I might skip this dish. It’s hard to find a substitute for the water spinach, and you’d be missing the whole point. It’s not for the pork. That’s just seasoning.

~stuff

1 tbs vegetable oil

½ lb ground pork

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs. fermented black beans, rehydrated (can use jarred sauce)

1 tbs. soy sauce

1 tbs. Chinese rice wine

2 c water spinach stems, minced

~steps

heat oil on high heat in a large saucepan or wok

brown ground pork in oil until the meat is no longer pink

add garlic, black bean, soy sauce, and rice wine to pork and sautee until fragrant, about 2 min.

add stems and stir until cooked through

season to taste and serve with rice

-serves 4-

14
Jun
13

A quick update and Happy Duanwu Day!

Hi friends,

I’ve had some personal things happen in my life the last couple of months that have been inspiring, trying, and eye opening.  Within a short couple of months, I’ve had experiences and challenges that I have only had to deal with, if ever, once or twice in 30 years.  All of these events have been hard as a friend, sibling, and loved one but nothing compares to what each person who is experiencing the event is going through.  I’m in awe of their courage.  However, this is not the reason for this post.  

It’s the year of the snake.  A year that allows for shedding of old skin and becoming a stronger self.  From these events I’ve been able to reach out to family members and friends for advice, laughter, and company.  So, although I’ve been missing from the blog the past couple of months, I’ve not forgotten it.  As part of my moving forward, shedding all the old skin, and coming into my new self I’m re-doing my blog.  I’ve had the same blog design for the last four years, and it makes sense to change the design as part of the year of the snake.  This transition isn’t going to be instant.  But I hope, by August 1st, the first day of my 30’s, that you will be looking at a newly designed blog.  

Also, it was Duanwu Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival yesterday.  So in honor of that, I’m pulling up an old post about Zong Zi, or Taiwanese Sticky Rice Dumplings, from a year ago.  It’s important to note, this was definitely a video of firsts:  First time I did a video post.  First time I made this dish.  First time I edited a video.  First time I filmed a video.  So, lot’s of firsts.  But, in my defense it was a year ago, and I feel like I’ve improved.  As you can see, it takes a long time to prepare everything and put it together, so if you decide to just buy it, that is ok, I won’t judge.

端午節快樂!

~slu

1 of few that made the cut.

1 of few that made the cut.

 

~stuff

10 cups Sticky Rice, uncooked and soaking for 3 hours

1 cup dried salted shrimp, rehydrated

2 cups whole dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated

1 cup raw peanuts

2 cups of water

4 star anise pods

1 tbs salt

1.5 lb pork belly, cubed into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup rice wine

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 large cloves garlic, peeled

35 bamboo leaves, soaking for 3 hours

~steps

Boiled Peanuts

~place peanuts, water, star anise, and salt in a small saucepan and boil on high heat until peanuts are soft, 15 minutes

Braised Pork

~places garlic, brown sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, and pork belly in a large dutch oven and turn on low heat

~braise pork until fork tender, about 3 hours (can be done ahead of time)

Cooking the Zong Zi

~simmer 3 cups of water in a large pot on medium low heat

~place zong zi in pot until just covered by water (use the string to hold it up so they don’t float around)

~simmer for about 45 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked

-makes 15-20-

09
May
13

Japanese Curry with Ground Pork and Apples

Japanese Kare

Japanese Kare

“Did you put apples in that?”

 

“Yes, the image on the box has a picture of an apple, so I figured I would put some of it in the curry.”

 

“Wait, is that a pear you just put in, too?”

 

“I had an extra Asian pear lying around and thought it would be a good idea.”

 

This is how my mom cooks.  She is always inspired by whatever seems logical to her at the time, and then it is a crapshoot as to how the dish actually tastes.  The above conversation took place while she was cooking Japanese curry.  Our Japanese curry always came from a pre-packaged spice mix.  It was the additional ingredients that made it my Mom’s “special recipe.”  To me, she was the original Sandra Lee (but Taiwanese and less intense when it came to “tablescapes”).

 

IMG_4534

Is that the fruit section from the grocery store in the curry?

“I think you put too many apples in this, I can’t tell if I’m eating a potato or an apple.  Wait, is this a salted plum?”

 

My mom’s cooking style is an adventure and a journey.  She starts at a certain idea, picks up characters and ingredients along the way, and finishes with a complete story with a happy ending.  I’ve learned to appreciate her creative focus and now use it myself when I come up with the recipes for this blog. This in-the-moment creativity that defines my mother and my own cooking style is one of the things that my brother always criticizes me for.

 

For him, if it’s the first time that he is cooking a dish for friends or family, he will research a recipe and measure everything out with precision.  It makes sense.  Me, however, I will look at a recipe or two for inspiration and ideas.  I then grab ingredients that I think would taste good and run with it.  My brother gives me crap for it all the time, until he takes his first bite. The complaining then ceases.

 

I’m glad my mom taught me how to cook.  I credit my creativity to her.  If there was an ingredient she liked, something she wanted to try, or a dish she enjoyed from a meal out with the family, she would attempt making it at home.  Even today, she’ll still call me to chat about a dish she just made and how proud she is of the final outcome.   She’ll go into detail about it and I’m usually caught off guard from one or two ingredients.  But in the end, she is happy with result and it sounds like it would work.

 

I now make my Japanese curry with apples in it.  It gives it a subtle, sweet flavor without tasting too sweet.  The blend of spice and smoke go well with the apple.  But, you won’t see me putting a salted plum or pear in it.

I need more curry.

I need more curry.

 

Notes on the dish:  This is Japanese curry or “Kare”.  It was introduced to Japan by the British because of their colonial rule over India.  It’s much milder compared to Indian curry, and delicious with rice.  I made this from scratch, but you can make it with pre-packaged Kare.  I like both versions of the curry.  It’s kind of how I feel about homemade mac and cheese and the Kraft version.  Sometimes the packaged stuff is just as good in its own way.

~stuff

 

2 tbs butter

1 tbs garam masala or a milder curry powder (if you want less hot)

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 c onion, chopped

1 lb ground meat of your choice

1/2 c carrot, chopped

1 c vegetables, chopped (mix it up with squash, celery, chayote…)

1 medium potato, chopped

1 medium apple, chopped

1 c broth, vegetable or meat

½ c water

salt to taste

 

~steps

 

heat butter with curry powder, tumeric, garlic powder, cumin, and coriander and slightly toast the spices on high heat

 

add onion, ginger, and meat and stir until cooked through

 

stir in all the vegetables and fruit, add broth and water, and turn heat down to medium heat

 

simmer  on medium heat until fully incorporated and curry begins to thicken, about 30 to 45 minutes

 

season to taste and serve over rice

 

-serves 4-

 

16
Jan
13

Day 14: Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Vegetables

Yes, I will always eat pork belly.

Yes, I will always eat pork belly.

There are certain ingredients that I will always equate to Taiwanese food.  They are ingredients that make up dishes that bring me back to my childhood and remind me of a time when I was innocent, eager, and always ready for culinary adventures.  And that’s one of the main reasons that i started this blog, to share with you the moments when I fell in love with certain dishes.  These ingredients are sticky rice, preserved vegetables, the Taiwanese braising combination, and pork belly (or any gelatinous dish).  The moment any of these things touch my mouth or the smell of them cooking fills the air, I’m reminded of when I was younger when I was full of energy, excitement, and culinary adventure.
I had to get some help when purchasing the ingredients for this dish though.  Also, it’s gone through a few different attempts before I finally figured out the right recipe for it.  The key item in this dish is not the pork belly.  Although, the pork belly is the star in my books with it’s beautiful unctuous texture and rich flavor.  Before I salivate all over my keyboard, let’s get back to the point: the key ingredient to this dish is Mei Gan Cai.  It is preserved mustard greens that are made by drying, salting, squeezing, steaming, and fermenting the greens and stalks.  The long process gives the pickled vegetables a delicious earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness to round out the salty flavor that comes from it.  You can usually find this at larger Chinese supermarkets.  But make sure you bring a picture of the product or the characters when you go shopping.  It will help, I promise.
Here are the things I learned while working on this dish:
1) bring a friend who can read Chinese to the market with you.  I thought I would be able to go by sight when picking out the vegetables for this dish, but I’ve actually never bought it in it’s raw form before.  Luckily, I had a friend with me who reads Chinese so she was able to pick it out for me.
2) wash the vegetables and soak them multiple times before you cook it.  The first time I cooked this dish, I treated the pickled vegetables like the dried turnips or zha cai and just washed it once.  That with the soy sauce in the liquid made it unbearably salty.  The second time I made it, I washed the vegetables four or five times and then soaked it in hot water for around 45 minutes to release the salt from the vegetables.  With a final rinse before cooking, you will finally be set to cook the dish.
3) cut the pork belly into 1 inch cubes if you are in a hurry.  And when I mean hurry, I mean like you need to have dinner ready in 3 or 4 hours from start of braise time as opposed to 6 to 8 hours for a whole piece of bork belly.
4) don’t be afraid of sugar in this dish.  If you think about it, your putting in soy sauce, preserved vegetables, and rice wine which all contain a high amount of salt.  Of course you are going to need a lot of sugar to help balance that out.
~stuff
2 lb pork belly, sliced in 1 in chunks if you want
1 tsp oil, canola, vegetable, or peanut
2 c mei gan cai, rinsed, soaked, and chopped
5 slice of ginger
2 medium scallion, minced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 c soy sauce
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c rice wine
1 c water
~steps
sear pork belly in a large pot or dutch oven on high with oil
add preserved vegetable, ginger, scallion, and garlic and stir until fragrant
pour the rest of the ingredients in the pot and stir
braise on low heat until pork belly is completely tender, about 4 hours
-serves 4-
12
Jan
13

Day 10: Taiwanese Stewed Ground Pork with Pickles (Lo Ba)

Taiwanese Stewed Ground Pork

Taiwanese Stewed Ground Pork

This post does get graphic. I want to warn you.

My dad comes from a family of farmers in southern Taiwan. He used to live in a small farming township called “Yanpu” that only has about 25,000 people in it. The rest of his family still live there and continue to manage the farm that my grandparents started decades ago. One of the amazing values that my parents wanted to instill in my brother and me is the importance of family and knowing where you come from. To do this, we would travel to Taiwan every winter holiday and visit all the relatives from Northern to Southern Taiwan. This wasn’t a very easy feat, and I commend my parent’s planning skills, because they both come from a family of 7 children. But the great thing is it allowed me to really experience the country that I miss now.

The farm that my grandfather started was mostly sugarcane. However, when the market was getting rough for sugarcane, he saved all his money and slowly turned it into a pig farm. It began to gradually expand; and eventually my grandfather owned two different farms with hundreds of pigs on each. All my uncles and cousins worked on the farm and I commend them for the hard work to help build my grandfathers legacy to what it is today. I haven’t visited the farm in years, but I will always have memories of the farm and the pigs, as they are a very important part of my life. Here are the ways they are important to me.

  • I was born in the year of the pig
  • I like pork belly
  • I like pork ears
  • I like pork tails
  • I like pork loin and chops
  • I like pork neck bones
  • I like pork hocks/feet
  • I love ground pork

Now, I’m going to be honest with you, I’m surprised that I’m not more of a vegetarian because of all the jokes that my relatives played on me. I was one of the youngest of all the cousins in our family so it would make sense to pick on me. Let’s see if I can recount them all for you without going into shock or seeking out professional help after this post. Some events may have been exaggerated, but I’m running off the memory of a scared little boy who can never unlearn what he saw. To give context, all of this probably happened between 7 to 10 years of age.

Memory #1

“Hey Dad, where are we goin’?”

“We’re going to go visit your uncle at the farm first. He said that we should go see him before we get to the house”

“Ok, cool”

At the farm, the pigs are all separated by age, and I notice we are going to my favorite part of the grounds, which is the piglet section. Because, who doesn’t love a baby pig? As we get closer, I begin to hear loud screams, which is not anything different from what I remember in the past, because pigs scream out of excitement for food or company. We get closer to my uncles and I notice he has an iodine stained apron and a facemask on. In one hand is a shiny object and in another hand is a liquid bottle with what I now know as iodine. I don’t really think much of it, until I see all my 8 year old and 10 year old cousins chasing after little pigs, picking them up, and bringing them to him. At first, I wanted to join them in chasing the pigs but then I realize what is happening.

I am witnessing a mass neutering of the piglets.

Memory #2

My brother is walking around the grounds of the farm. He pulls me over and tells me to look into a red bucket that is by the front gate.

“Sure, I’ll go look at the red bucket.”

My older brother couldn’t possibly want try to scare me. I notice a small bucket on the floor and slowly creep up to it. Suddenly my instincts kick in and I fear my brother is playing a trick on me. I step closer and I don’t see anything moving, so I ease my anxiety a little and look in. I scream louder then a piglet getting neutered or birthing pig and run away. My brother had led me to a bucket of still born pigs.

Memory #3

My uncle asks if I want to go see piglets.

“Yes! Of course! I love piglets!”

“Ok go down this aisle to the very end, your other uncle is there now.”

“Dad will you go with me?

We walk down to the end of the aisle. I hear loud screaming, but clearly I did not learn from previous experiences that screaming should be my warning sign. We get to my other uncle who is hunched over on the floor. I asked my dad what he was doing and he said that the pig was giving birth.

“I get to see a BABY pig?! Amazing!”

We get closer and I noticed why my uncle was hunched, his hand was up to his elbow inside a pig. There was a problem with the birth and he had to help it along. Before I had a chance to even react, out came the babies.

“Um, Dad? So they don’t come out furry and cute when they are born?”

My uncle asks if I want to touch the slime and blood covered babies.

“…no…”

My dad still continues to tell me stories about growing up in a small town that had less people then my college campus and what it was like growing up in a poor farming family. I treasure each one of them, and hope to be able to share them with you in many future posts to come. I’m proud of my dad. He was the first person in his family to graduate college, the first in the town to go to grad school and complete it, and the first one to move to the states. I took for granted the road he took for us and through some reflections I’ve had in the past couple of year, am grateful for the sacrifices he made for my brother and I. Because, if it where not for him and his ambitions, I would probably not have had the creativity or drive to create this blog and instead, would be neutering pigs.

~stuff

1½ ground pork

1 tsp oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 c scallion, minced

¼ c soy sauce

1 c soy sauce pickles (you can get this in any Chinese market), sliced

5 tbs pickling liquid

1½ c water

½ c Chinese rice wine

~steps

brown pork in a large saucepan or pot with oil on high heat

add scallion and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute

turn heat on medium high heat and add the rest of the ingredients

simmer on medium for at least 30 minutes

serve with rice.

-serves 6-

06
Jan
13

Day 4: Pork and Daikon Soup with Soy Paste Dipping Sauce

Pork Broth Soup with Daikon.

Pork Broth Soup with Daikon.

As a kid, I’ve always been in to intense flavors.  One of the many great things about growing up in a first generation family in Southern California is the access to different flavors, cuisines, and ingredients.  When visiting Westminster, I would love the tart fishy flavors of Nuoc Cham, or when eating dim sum in Roland Heights, the bitter, earthy quality of gizzards, liver, and kidney would stick in my mind for the rest of the day.  So, naturally when I first tasted Taiwanese Soy Paste, I would be drawn to the sweet and salty quality of the sauce.

At home, there was one dish that we would use this sauce for dipping.  It was a soup that was made with the neck bones of pork and with the addition of bitter melon, daikon, or winter melon.  It was an easy soup to prepare and the flavor was clean and light and warmed the body.  The broth is magical because it is only a few ingredients and takes an hour to cook, but tastes like a complex broth that’s been boiling for a whole day.  The best part of the soup is always the pork bones.  It takes a little effort, but the neck bones have some meat that has to be dug out.  Once you get to it, it’s tender and earthy flavor will make it all worth the work.

I, of course, would always fish for the largest piece at the beginning of the meal so no one claim rights to it.  I’d set it aside in my soup bowl while I continued to eat my rice, other braised meats, fish, vegetables; whatever was required for my parents to be satisfied that I had eaten a balanced meal.  Then, when it was time to enjoy the pork, I would spoon some soup over the meat to reheat it and then go grab a small dish of soy paste.

My mom would always watch how much I poured into my dipping dish, because I always seemed to “accidentally” pour twice the amount that a person should consume.  Once I got it back to the table, with sheer excitement, I would start picking pieces of pork off the neck bones and cover them in this sweet salty sauce.  These bones have some nooks and crannies to them, but I discovered what the chimps had known for so long; that a long stick is a great tool.  I took my one chopstick and began picking at the crevices to get out all the tender meat.  Sometimes, if I planned it right, I would run out of the sauce and have to go back for seconds.  This is how I was able to cheat my Mom’s system.

I remember one time, when I was young; I was so excited to be able to get more of the soy paste that I wasn’t really in the right state of mind.  It’s like when I was scooping mayonnaise into my mouth or drinking coleslaw juice.  I had a moment of weakness.  I noticed that some of the paste was dribbling down the side, I could have just wiped it with a napkin, but that would be wasteful.  What if I use a piece of my pork?  Wait, it’s too far.  I know! I’ll lick it.  So I slowly moved the bottle to my mouth, and with a quick lick, it was clean.  (I realize that the last two options make me sound unsanitary.  I was)

“Did you just put your mouth to the bottle?”   Damn, my brother caught me.

“No.  That’s gross!”  I stomped back to the dinner table, upset that my brother thought I would do something so disrespectful and offensive.  But, I did.  And it was worth it.  I got more of the soy paste.

Later that night, Mom threw away the bottle of soy paste.

Taiwanese “Soy Paste” or “Sweet Soy Sauce” is a thicker more viscous soy sauce that contains sugar, rice and potato starch in addition to the soy sauce. Because it’s a blend, it has much less sodium than regular soy sauce, but not that much more. The brand that I like to use is “Kimlan”. You can commonly use it in stir fries, but when going through the streets of Taiwan, you will more likely see it mixed with cilantro and crushed peanuts and used as a dipping sauce for various dishes.  It’s really good, in that combination, over Taiwanese Tamales.

Some notes on the soup.  In order to get a really clear broth, my mom would do a quick initial boil of the bones to release all the protein and scum and then re-boil it with the vegetables.  If you don’t mind swampy broth, you can skip that step.

~stuff

2 lb pork neck bones

1 large daikon, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces

4 cups of water

salt to taste

cilantro, optional

~step

for clear broth (skip the next two steps if you don’t mind a clear broth)

rinse bones and place in a large pot and cover with cold water and turn on high heat

drain water once it has come to a boil

add all 4 cups of water, until covering the bones, in a large pot and boil on high heat

simmer the stock for 45 minutes after the water comes to a boil

add the daikon and simmer until fork tender, about 15 minutes

season the broth with salt and thrown in some cilantro for the last five minutes of cooking.

-serves 6-

 

25
Jun
12

Video Post: The Launch of my YouTube channel and a Zong Zi recipe

wrapped

Some exciting things are happening here at brb…eating.
Update #1: I’m pleased to announce the launch of the brb…eating YouTube channel: [brbeatingdotcom].
I’ve always wanted to incorporate different forms of media in this blog beyond just pictures and print, especially with some dishes that are so hard to describe in just words. June 23rd, Dragon Boat Festival, was coming up and it was traditional to have Zong Zi on this day.  So, I thought that it was a good opportunity to make my family’s “Bah Tsang” recipe (a rather difficult process of filling, wrapping, and tying [pay close attention to the tying in the video]) and force myself out of my comfort zone and make a video about it.  I am now excited to say I can cross two things off my lunar new year list.

Click me to see how I am made!

 

Here is the recipe for the Zong Zi/ Bah Tsang/ Sticky Rice Dumpling or whatever you want to call it.
~stuff
10 cups Sticky Rice, uncooked and soaking for 3 hours
1 cup dried salted shrimp, rehydrated
2 cups whole dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated
1 cup peanut
2 cups of water
4 star anise pods
1 tbs salt
1.5 lb pork belly, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
35 bamboo leaves, soaking for 3 hours
Boiled Peanuts
~place peanuts, water, star anise, and salt in a small saucepan and boil on high heat until peanuts are soft, 15 minutes
Braised Pork
~places all ingredients in a large dutch oven and turn on low heat
~braise pork until fork tender, about 3 hours
~if using for Zong Zi, let cool to room temperature
-makes 15-20-



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