It’s a new year!

What’s the best  way to usher in the new year??

With food of course!! (Besides copious amounts of fireworks).

So on the last day of 2014, I decided to end the year with happiness 🙂 … and roast pork with crackling, which is basically edible happiness. And since slaving away on a hot day is not associated with happiness,  I tried to keep it simple and stuffed it with an easy mixture of rosemary, thyme, onion, garlic and fresh bread crumbs. I also added a couple sploshes of marsala before rolling the stuffing up with the pork. After wrestling the hunk of meat into a bind-able form, I massaged some olive oil and salt into the skin and whacked it into the oven to roast.

And in order to clear out some left over veges in the fridge, I served it with some roasted cauliflower and red cabbage. My attempt to be a little bit healthy 😛

But ooo look at that juicy fatty pork..mmmm

By the way, I’m not sure how people cut out perfect rounds of roast pork, because my knife has trouble cutting through crackling and the whole thing kind of fell apart the harder I tried.

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And so 2014 has passed and slipped into history, hopefully 2015 will be one that is meaningful and joyful for you all!

And yay I get to start the year with roast pork sandwiches

Pulled pork

I can’t believe it’s nearly a month since my last post!……actually it is quite believable considering my blogging track record. But I have bountiful excuses. I had so much going on. I was sick, went to the snow, got sick again and then decided to move onto my other hobby of painting. Of course there was work and being lazy as well…

I’m still recovering from my second cold and I blame the lethargic symptoms for influencing my decision making. This was evidenced over the weekend when I agreed to help do some cooking for around 60 people. To make matters more complicated, I suggested we could go with something simple like pulled pork. Whilst making pulled pork for one or two people might be easy, I was quick to learn that it’s not fun pulling apart 10 to 11 kilos of pork.

Despite my sore hands I can see why it’s so popular. The tender, smoky and saucy strips go so well with a bit of salsa or crunchy slaw.

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Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of pork neck or pork shoulder
  • 2 heaped tbsp of sweet or smoked paprika
  • 2 heaped tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • Almost 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup oil.
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Good quality bbq sauce
  1. Mix together all the ingredients except pork, onion and chicken stock. It should look like a slurry. If it is too gritty, add in a bit more oil to loosen up the mixture.
  2. Massage the mixture into the pork making sure you get into all the crevices. Marinate at least overnight. If the pork is too big, cut it into smaller chunks. A chunk slightly bigger than your fist should be fine. This would help lessen the cooking time.
  3. Preheat oven to 130 degrees celcius for fan forced. Layer onions on bottom of baking tray. Place pork on top. This will prevent the bottom of the pork from burning
  4. Pour in chicken stock around pork and cover with aluminium foil. Place into oven.
  5. Bake for 2hrs. Flip the pork and bake for another hour uncovered.
  6. The meat should be soft to poke through and should yield if you try to tear with a fork. If it isn’t soft enough cover and bake for longer.
  7. Take out and rest the meat covered for half an hour.
  8. After resting, start shredding or pulling the pork apart. You can use two forks to do this or go with your hands.
  9. If you are serving the pork that day, mix through some bbq sauce until the pulled pork is moist but not overly wet.
  10. Place into oven for 5 min to warm through and serve in whatever way you want.

Optional steps

  1. If you are serving the pork the next day, you can place the remaining cooking liquid into the fridge for the fat to set.
  2. Scoop off the top layer of fat and heat up the liquid on the stove on medium heat
  3. Add in cider vinegar if you have it and some more sugar/salt to taste. You can add the vinegar a little at a time to adjust to your tasting.
  4. Let the liquid reduce until it thickens slightly.
  5. Add the liquid to the pulled pork until it is moist and not overly wet. Serve and enjoy!

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Salted mustard greens and braised pork belly (Mui Choi Kau Yuk)

Woo it’s Thursday! There’s only one more day till the end of the week! By the sounds of it, I don’t seem to like my job, but it’s actually not that bad. I get to go out to different places and get encouraged by stories from resilient people living with mental illnesses.

A couple of days ago I was able to get home early from work and had a bit more time to cook. Usually with pork belly I would just whack it in the oven and let it do its job, but this time I decided to braise it in a sticky, sweet soy concoction. Served together with preserved mustard greens this dish is available at some Cantonese restaurants.

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Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 400-500 g Pork belly. Slice it across the grain at 1.5 cm thickness. Try to slice it into the size of playing cards
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  •  1 tsp five spice powder
  • Oil
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3-4 strands of salted mustard greens. They look like this. Don’t get the ones that look like pickles.
  • 1.5 tsp of sugar
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced.
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp cornflour and 1 tbsp of water mixed together.
  • Optional garnish of spring onions.

Steps

  1. Combine pork with dark soy, light soy, brown sugar and five spice powder. Massage the sauces and seasoning into the meat. You might want to wear gloves as the dark soy can stain. Let it marinate for around 2 hours.
  2. Heat oil in pan/wok on medium to high heat. Sear off the pork until it is browned. You have to look extra hard to see if the meat is caramelised as the colour is already brown.
  3. Once done take out pork and deglase the pan/wok with the 3/4 cup of water. Reserve the liquid.
  4. Heat oil in another pan on high heat and sautee the salted mustard greens, garlic and sugar for ~1 min until fragrant.
  5. Lay some of the sauteed mustard on a shallow bowl. Place as together as possible the pork and sandwich the rest of the mustard between the pieces of meat. Pour over the reserved liquid.
  6. Heat a wok/steamer of water on medium/high heat. Steam the pork and mustard for 1.5 hours.
  7. After it is done, heat pan/wok and pour in the steamed pork/mustard. Taste and see if it needs more salt/ pepper or sugar.
  8. When it starts simmering, add in the cornflour/water mixture. Make sure you are mixing the pork/mustard as you pour it in.
  9. When the sauce thickens up and comes back to a simmer switch off and serve. You can garnish it with some thinly sliced spring onions.

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

Beef and pork ragu with freshly made tagliatelle

Over the long weekend, with the luxury of waking up a bit later than usual, I reverted back to a really bad habit of watching youtube videos in bed. Specifically cooking videos… While tapping away on my phone’s screen, I stumbled onto a very charismatic and vibrant Italian cook called Gennaro Contaldo. I didn’t realise how famous he was, but then I found out he was a part of the show Two Greedy Italians. And he mentored Jamie Oliver….He was so entertaining and passionate that I had soon watched nearly every single one of his recipe videos. His family ragu in particular aroused the greatest craving which was quite inconvenient considering that it was 12:30 in the morning.

Coincidentally, it was also my cousin’s birthday which provided a perfect outlet to bring that ragu from youtube to life. Here’s the video which started it all, and the recipe. The video is a bit different from the recipe but they are both fine. To match the ragu, I also took the risk to make my own pasta. I tried making pasta before and ended up with thick pieces of rubber. After chatting to a former chef at work I found out that I should have used 00 flour instead of plain flour as it has a mid-protein level and is ground finer. I followed a guideline by Jamie oliver which is pretty simple: 100gm flour to 1 egg. I mixed up the egg with the flour until it was roughly combined then tipped it out on the bench and kneaded away. After some strenuous kneading (~5 min) the dough was done. I wasn’t sure whether I should knead longer but then the dough felt smooth and came together like playdoh. I let my dough rest for 3 hours and hoped for the best.

And wow it turned out so well this time. Finally, something that looks like the images in the recipe. After flattening it out as much as possible with my rolling pin (I don’t have a pasta machine) I folded it up and cut it into ~0.5-1 cm widths. I purposely cut it up roughly so it looked handmade haha. After the ragu had finished cooking I boiled some water, slipped the pasta in and let boil for around 2 minutes. Then I dunked it into the ragu and let it soak in all that meaty simmering flavours.

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O my gosh it was so delicious. Too bad it took such a long time to make or else I would have this more often. The pasta was silky soft with a bit of bite and the ragu was just delicious. I broke up the meat after cooking so each mouthful had ribbons of beef intertwined with the pasta. Yum.

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I must have shaken my hand while taking this photo out of hunger. I started cooking at 4 and started eating three and a half hours later.

I would highly recommend trying Gennaro’s recipe and tasting it for yourself.

Cravings for pizza

Wow I am getting worse… 2 posts in one month.. I thought I’d have greater blogging discipline, especially since its about food…but obviously not. To be honest, my recent eating experiences have been quite mundane. Noodles, mince and whack-it-in-the-oven stuff aren’t really worth sharing online. However, just the other week I saw a post by grabyourfork on a Newtown pizzeria and couldn’t help but feel like making and stuffing my face with delicious pizza. Not the dominos stuff either, I was after real earnest flavours and a delectably thin yet slightly chewy crust.

Having never made pizza before, I turned to a basic online dough recipe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any 00 flour and my dry yeast was expired by 2 years but you use what you have when you just can’t wait. In the end I decided to make 2 toppings, a sausage one and one with mushrooms.

Pork sausage pizza toppings

Ingredients

  • 2 italian pork sausages or normal pork sausage with the meat  removed from the casing
  • Sprinkle of fennel seeds
  • Sprinkle of dried oregano and basil
  • Couple of bocconcini balls torn up
  • Grated mozzarella
  • Pizza tomato paste or you can make your own
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle of dried chillli
  1. Break up sausage meat and pan fry until browned
  2. Roll out dough, spread tomato paste sparingly
  3. Top with all the ingredients and bake at the highest temperature until dough is browned and looks cooked.

I was pretty happy with the outcome despite not having a wood fired oven. As you can see it kinda looks alright… the rustic label is especially applicable in this context.

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For the Mushroom and caremalized onion pizza topping

Ingredients

  • 3 mushrooms sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp of oil and butter
  • Half a brown onion sliced thinly
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • Couple of pieces of bocconcini torn up
  • Grated mozzarella
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Saute mushrooms and garlics in some oil until cooked through
  2. On lowest heat, cook onions. Stir around frequently and cover to speed up caremalization process. Take off heat when onion has browned a bit and softened completely.
  3. Roll out dough. Place a bit of the bocconcini and mozzarella on the base. Add mushroom/garlic mix, onion and herbs. Place the rest of the cheeses on top.
  4. Season with salt and pepper then bake until ready.

I really enjoyed the flavours in this pizza as well. The textural nature of the mushrooms and fragrant herbs really placed it on par if not better than the sausage one. It also looked better in my opinion.

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The funny thing was that later that evening I ended up eating pizza with some friends at a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint near Wynyard station…so I think I can do without pizza for a while now.

Pork and Eggplant stirfry

I realised that I haven’t blogged in a while… I’ve been caught up with working and just being tired in general so cooking hasn’t been something I’ve looked forward to. Another reason is that I don’t feel like I’ve made anything “blog worthy” enough. But then I guess simple everyday dishes can definitely be delicious as well. The highlight of this recipe is definitely the flavoursome nubbins of fried pork mince which go so well with a bowl of plain rice. I know there are other versions which are a bit more saucier but I prefer this drier version as wet stew-like egg plants aren’t really my thing…

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Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 500gm Mince pork (a bit of fat is good.. flavour wise)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Japanese eggplants segmented at random angles
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 or more birds eye chillis seeds removed if you like it more restrained
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 0.5-1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 0.5-1 tbsp soy sauce (normal soy)
  • 0.5-1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Steps

  1. Mix 1 tbsp of salt with egg plant pieces and let sit for half an hour.. after the bitter brownish juices have been released, wash thoroughly under running water. Pat dry.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wok on high heat. Wait until it is very very hot.
  3. Add in garlic and minced pork and let fry for around 6 minutes. Whilst it is frying, using the end of the spatula, break up the pork into very small pieces. Don’t stir too much though as that would make it stew… just mix minimally. After it is browned dish out.
  4. Add in the rest of the oil and heat until hot. Add in chillis and eggplant. Don’t stir it too much just toss lightly now and then. After around 1-2 minutes, add in chicken stock and cover to let steam.
  5. When the liquid has just about evaporated add in the meat again and stir fry let the pork caramelise just a bit further.
  6. Add the wine and let evaporate
  7. Add in the normal soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and dark soy sauce. Mix around making sure the pork and eggplant are coated. Continue frying for a bit longer ~1 min
  8. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
  9. When you are just about done, add in the sesame oil and stir through.
  10. Dish out and enjoy!

A simple dish and better yet to finish with some humble basic carrot watercress and pork soup. Perfect for this rainy suddenly Autumn weather.

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Pork ragu pappardelle

I was deciding whether to post this meal up since most of the ingredients were ‘packaged’ supermarket stuff but it tasted delicious so here it is. Besides I took the photos already and it felt like a waste if I didn’t put them up haha. (Note: my photos are still kind of crap, maybe its because I use my phone camera lol. But my friend suggested using some foil to do some reflecting. Don’t know if it did anything substantial but it kind of looks lighter.)

ImageEven though it sounds kind of fancy, the dish is really easy to whip up. its basically the same as making bolognese which I’m sure most people already know how to make. In fact, according to the internet (wikipedia), bolognese is a ragu.

For this dish, I sauteed some onion and garlic then added the pork mince, dried herbs, a can of tomatoes and some run of the mill sauce from the jar (it wasn’t really necessary though). I picked up a tip from Heston where you put in a star anise when cooking the onion, apparently it accentuates the meaty aroma of the dish.

After adding some pepper, salt, sugar and a little water I simmered it for around 45 min. During the last 10 min, I boiled some salted water, chucked in some San Remo fresh pappardelle and chopped up some parsley. So easy yet deliciously filling. However, next time I would like to try making my own pasta when I get a machine…they are so expensive though. I once tried making my own pasta using a rolling pin and failed miserably…mmm boiled strips of rubber.

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Beijing style pork neck

There’s something about crispy batter soaked in sauce that really satisfies. And I’m not the only one that is attracted to this combination.. the popularity of korean fried chicken in Sydney and the staple buffalo wings in the states is testament to this crisyp, starchy, flavoursome deliciousness.

If you go to any cantonese style restaurant, you will likely come across this dish. They either call it peking/beijing pork chop/strips or ging do gwuk in Chinese. I’m not sure whether the sauce coating the pork is the authentic one from Beijing but it is addictive with a slight tangy-ness and full on umami flavour. Although you can have it at the restaurants, why not try making it at home. In fact most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry right now. Here’s what it looks like

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Although I just cut mine into flat chunks you can slice the pork into strips to help it cook faster. If you can be bothered (I could not), some people serve it on top of a bed of deep fried thin rice noodles.

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The batter worked out really well this time. I actually ran out of self raising flour, which i normally use, but instead used plain flour with a pinch of baking soda and baking powder. Here’s the recipe

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Around 500 gm pork neck or loin or any part of pork that won’t be tough if fried for a short time
  • 1 handful + a bit more of plain flour
  • 1 medium not too large but not too small pinch of baking soda and the same amount of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of oil but you may need a bit more, it really depends… don’t you love how detailed this recipe is
  • Around 1-2 tbsp of water
  • 2-3 tbsp corn flour
  • Oil for frying, enough to reach 1cm of pan/pot

For the sauce

  • 1.5 tbsp of tomato sauce
  • Just a bit less than 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • A dash of chicken powder (knorr brand or similar)/ or you can use half a cup of chicken stock instead
  • Around half a cup of water if you are not using chicken stock
  • A dash of pepper
  • 2 tsp of soy sauce
  • Around half a tbsp of sugar
  • A dash of Shaoxing wine
  • Salt if needed
  • dash of vinegar (can be white vinegar or some chinese brand vinegar if you have it) around 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil

Steps

  1. To make the batter, mix the plain flour, baking soda and powder well. Then add in the oil to make a thick paste
  2. Add in water enough to make it into a cake batter like consistency. Not runny but slightly thicker than lava consistency.
  3. Add in sliced pork and make sure every piece is covered
  4. Heat oil in pan/pot on medium-high heat until oil is heated up
  5. Coat each piece of pork in cornflour then slowly place into hot oil. You may need to turn down the heat depending on whether it is frying too fast or things are getting out of hand
  6. Fry for around 4-5 min for each piece turning now and then until you get a deep browning. Really depends on size of the pork. Maybe test one to make sure its cooked through. Don’t cook it until it is too dry though. A little little tinge of pink may be alright
  7. Take out and place on paper towel
  8. To make the sauce, mix all the ingredients and pour into work/pot on low to medium heat
  9. When it comes to the boil, taste and see whether you need to add any vinegar or sugar or salt. Adjust and taste. Adjust and taste
  10. If the sauce is tooo liquidy, then mix a little bit (around 1 tsp) of corn flour and 1 tbsp of water and pour into sauce to thicken it up. Taste again
  11. Once you are satisfied with the flavour then add in the pork and toss, coating each piece.
  12. Serve with rice and enjoy!