Pork Vindaloo

Why must the Internet flood my RSS reader with so many posts about grilling?  Damn you Memorial Day weekend and your heralding of summer grill time.

I am angry, obviously, because I do not own a grill, and am ever so jealous of those delicious char marks being paraded before my eyes.  Someday I will have steaks and pork chops that bear that quintessential mark of outdoor eating, but not this day.  Not this weekend.

So I do want I can.  And since I had some pork leftover from my moo shu pork, I decided to make a curry of sorts.  A very tasty curry, if I may.

I’d been waiting to start using the curry paste I bought ages ago from a local Indian market, so finally hearing the top pop open was music to my ears.  The rich aroma emanating from that little jar was so overwhelming, it made me want to cry.  Or maybe that was the spices irritating my tear ducts.

Either way, this curry is fabulously simple.  I paired it with some of my leftover moo shu pancakes, but serving it with rice or noodles would be great too.

Pork Vindaloo

Adapted from Food Figure

Makes 2-3 servings

1/2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
a thumb sized piece of ginger, minced or shredded
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp red curry paste
1 cup diced tomatoes or 3/4 cup tomato sauce
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1-2 cups water
2/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven or a large skillet with high sides, add oil and cook onions over medium heat.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the onions are soft and starting to get some color.  Add the garlic, ginger, and curry paste and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the pork and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes or tomato sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. Add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the curry to reduce for several minutes or until desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt or sour cream. Serve beside or over your favorite rice, naan, noodles or on its own. Garnish with a few leafs of cilantro or parsley.


Moo Shu Pork

Growing up, you could never entice me with a pork chop.  Or any pork product of any kind, except maybe a hot dog.  Nowadays things seem to have reversed themselves.  I haven’t touched a hot dog in years, and other cuts of pork have never looked so good.

The one exception being bacon.  I despise bacon.  Boo all you want, but it won’t change my mind.  To me, bacon is gross, and that’s just the way it is.  But put a nice pork shoulder or tenderloin in front of me and I am ready to go.

We all know I love pulled pork.  Well, I also am really starting to like pork tenderloin.  I bought a 2-pound one when they were on sale one day, and threw it in the freezer until I could figure out what to do with it.

Not having a grill, and an unwillingness to repeat the cleaning disaster that is my grill pan, I knew there must be other ways to utilize this meat.

And oh lordy I found it.  Now, I have never had moo shu pork from an American Chinese restaurant.  I never had it in China as it is a northern dish and I was in Taiwan (which falls more into the Southern school of cooking).  So I have no idea if this is close in taste to “authentic” moo shu pork, but my goodness was it good.

The recipe also calls for making your own mandarin pancakes, so it’s intensive, but the final result is quite impressive and sure to delight.  Plus, it’s MSG free!!

Moo Shu Pork

Adapted from 2002 Cooking Light Annual Recipes

Makes 6-8 servings

For the pancakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup boiling water

1 ½ Tbsp sesame oil

For the pork filling:

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp rice wine or sake

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp cornstarch

1 ½ lbs boneless pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1x ¼ inch pieces

½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms

8 oz button mushrooms, sliced

½ cup scallions, sliced

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp peeled fresh ginger, grated

3 Tbsp rice wine or sake

3 Tbsp soy sauce

½ tsp cornstarch

½ tsp sugar

¼ tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp peanut oil (or any other veggie oil), divided

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 Tbsp rice wine or sake

½ cup hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp soy sauce

First, marinate the pork.  Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large Ziploc bag.  Add the pork, seal, shake to coat pieces and let marinate in the refrigerator for one hour, turning occasionally.  Remove pork from bag and discard the marinade.

While the pork is marinating, make the pancakes.  Combine the flour and water in a large bowl.  Stir until a soft dough forms, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.  Shape the dough into a 1 ½ inch thick log.  Divide the dough into 14 or 16 equal portions.  Roll each dough portion into a 6 inch circle.  Brush one half of the pancakes evenly with the oil, then top them with another pancake, gently pressing them together.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Place 1 pancake stack in the pan and cook for one minute on each side or until slightly puffed.  Remove from pan, and cool.  Peel pancakes apart and repeat with the rest of the pancake pairs.  Set them aside to cool.

Continue to make the filling.  Combine 2 cups boiling water with the dried shiitakes mushrooms in a bowl, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes.  Drain, discard the stems, and thinly slice the caps.  Combine sliced shiitakes, sliced button mushrooms, scallions and ginger in a medium bowl, set aside.

Combine 3 Tbsp rice wine and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk.  Set aside.

Heat ½ Tbsp oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add pork, and stir fry 3-5 minutes, or until no longer pink.  Remove pork from pan.  Add the remaining oil and add the vegetable mixture.  Stir fry for 5-8 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and have released their juices.  Add the eggs, and stir fry 30 seconds more or until softly scrambled.  Add the pork back in, and then add in the cornstarch mixture.  Stir fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.  Place pork mixture on a platter.

Combine hoisin sauce and soy sauce in a small bowl.  Spread a little of the mixture on each pancake, then top each with about ½ cup of the pork mixture.  Roll up and enjoy!


Char Siu Bao

This is a post I’ve been waiting for, since the very inception of Bashful Bao.  I finally made my own bao!!!!  And they were delicious.

Bao 包 means bundle or package in Chinese, and what marvelous little bundles bao are indeed.  I don’t remember this first time I ever ate bao, but I do remember the first time I ate the best bao ever, in Taiwan, of course.

There was a little stand near a night market that sold all kinds of bao and mantou.  Mantou are like bao, only they have no filling and are just bread buns.  I would buy like a dozen, while my apartment-mates watched me quizzically, and ate them for practically every meal in the following days.

I buy frozen pre-made bao from Asian supermarkets for Luke, though I rarely eat them myself.  I guess I’m just a bao snob like that.

These bao are made with a cooked pork filling, and I like that the dough is a bit crustier.  Many bao doughs are soft and squishy, which doesn’t provide for much texture, so I appreciate a crispier crust.  You can make the filling a day in advance too, which makes things easier, since this recipe is a little lengthy.  If you’ve never made you own bao, or eaten it before, I cannot implore you enough to try it.  It’s one of my all time favorite real Chinese foods.

Char Siu Bao (Pork Buns)

Adapted from Amy Bites

Makes about 12 medium sized buns

For the pork:

1 lb boneless pork shoulder

1 big clove garlic, sliced

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 five spice powder

2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Cut the pork into strips that are 1 1/2” thick.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl large enough to fit the pork.  Remove 1/3 of the marinade to a small bowl and store in the fridge. This will be used later on for basting the pork as it roasts. Toss the pork in with the rest of the marinade to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, turning the pork 2-3 times.

Remove the pork and reserved marinade from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a roasting tack on top, or use a roasting pan.  Put the pork on the rack, leaving an inch between the pieces for heat circulation. Discard the used marinade.

Roast for 30 minutes, basting both sides of the pork with the marinade every 10 minutes. Flip the pieces over at every interval. The pork is done when it is glazed and slightly charred. Remove from the oven. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before using.

For the filling:

1 Tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp oyster sauce

1 Tbsp water

2 tsp canola oil

2 scallions (white and green parts), chopped

1/2 pound Char Siu Pork, diced

1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp water

To make the flavoring sauce, combine the sugar, salt, white pepper, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and water in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, or until aromatic and slightly softened. Add the pork and combine well. Add the flavoring sauce and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, or until the pork is heated through. Meanwhile, add the rice wine to the dissolved cornstarch. When the pork is hot enough, add the wine and cornstarch mixture. Cook for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes together into a mass that you can mound. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool completely before using. (The filling can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before using.)

For the dough:

10 Tbsp whole milk

4 Tbsp butter

2 tsp instant yeast

2 1/2 Tbsp lukewarm water

1 large egg

2 1/2 Tbsp sugar

12 1/2 oz all-purpose flour

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 Tbsp honey mixed with 1 Tbsp warm water

For the dough, melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, or until warm (about 110°F).

Put the yeast in small bowl, add the water, and set aside for 1 minute to soften. Whisk in the milk mixture and the egg to blend.

Combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon to work in all the flour. (Add water by the teaspoon if this doesn’t happen with relative ease.) Keep stirring as a ragged, soft mass forms. Then use your fingers to gather and pat the dough into a ball. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth, fingertip soft, and slightly elastic. (You should not need any additional flour on the work surface if the dough was properly made. Keep kneading and after the first minute or two, the dough should not stick to your fingers. If it does, work in a sprinkling of flour.) Press your finger into the dough; it should spring back, with a faint indentation remaining.

Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper before beginning to assemble the buns.

Remove the dough from the bowl and put on a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times, then roll it out into a 12-inch log, and then cut it into 8 or 16 pieces for medium or small buns, respectively. The tapered end pieces should be cut a little longer than the rest. Lightly roll each piece between your hands into a ball and then flatten each one into a 1/4-inch-thick disk. Use a rolling pin to roll the pieces into circles, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter for small or 3 1/4 inches in diameter for medium buns. The rim should be thinner than the center. The finished circle will rise as it sits. Lay the finished circles out on your work surface, lightly dusting their bottoms with flour if you fear they will stick.

To form a bun, hold a dough circle in a slightly cupped hand. Use a spoon or fork to center about 2 teaspoons of filling for small buns, or about 4 teaspoons of filling for medium ones, on the dough circle, pressing down very gently and keeping about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the dough clear on all sides; your hand will automatically close slightly. Use the thumb of the hand cradling the bun to push down the filling while the other hand pulls up the dough edge and pleats and pinches the rim together to form a closed satchel. Pinch and twist the dough closed at the end. Place the bun pleat side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough circles, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Set in a warm, draft- free place for 30 minutes to rise. Meanwhile, work on the other dough half to form more buns.

About 10 minutes before the rising time is over, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
Bake one baking sheet at a time, brushing the top and side of each bun with the egg right before baking. Bake small buns for about 14 minutes and medium buns for about 18 minutes, or until a rich golden brown; the cooked buns sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove them from the oven, set on a rack, and let cool for 5 minutes.

Brush the honey mixture on the buns for a sweet-glaze finish that will also soften the crust. Refrigerate leftover buns for up to a week and reheat at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, until hot. When making the buns in advance, wait to brush on the glaze until after you’ve reheated the buns. These buns may also be frozen for up to a month. Thaw them completely before reheating.


Pork & Chive Dumplings

You can bet that the instant those chives jumped into my basket, the first thing I thought about were dumplings.  When I was in Taiwan, there was a great dumpling place down the road from where I lived.  They offered interesting flavors, like curry or kimchi stuffed dumplings.

And of course, they had the classic pork and chive dumpling.  You could have them fried or steamed, and you ordered them off of a ticket that let you write a number next to each kind of dumpling you wanted.  And to top it all off, they cost like 10 cents a dumpling.

Oh how I miss Taiwanese foooood!  But luckily I can make my own dumplings at home, after having mastered dumpling folding and crimping lessons from my roommate’s mom in Taiwan.

These dumplings are perfect in their simplicity and downright scrumptious.  You could easily use ground beef or chicken if pork isn’t your thing.  Serve with soy sauce swirled with sesame oil.

Pork & Chive Dumplings

Adapted from Saveur

Makes 4-6 servings (about 40 dumplings)

1 lb. ground lean pork

2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 ½ cup garlic chives or scallions, finely chopped
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp grated ginger
1⁄2 tsp black pepper
40 dumpling wrappers (available at your local Asian market)

 

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour; set aside. Put sesame oil, pork, garlic chives, cornstarch, salt, ginger, and pepper, into a medium bowl and stir vigorously with a rubber spatula to combine.

Fill a small bowl with water.  Working with one wrapper at a time, put a tablespoon of pork filling onto a wrapper.  Wet your pointer finger in the small bowl and run it around the edge of the dumpling wrapper.  This will make the edges stick together.

Fold the wrapper in half, packing down the filling, and form pleats by folding the edges of the wrapper into itself.  It’s hard to explain the process in words, you might want to look up a tutorial on youtube if you’ve never made dumplings before.

Transfer each dumpling to reserved baking sheet.  At this point, you can freeze the dumplings; freeze them on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a Ziploc bag once completely frozen.

To cook: Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet with high sides.  Once the oil is hot, add as many dumplings as you want (or as many as can fit) in the skillet, making sure the filling side is down.  Once the bottoms become brown and crispy add one cup water and cover the skillet.  Cook until the water mostly evaporates and the dumpling skins are translucent, about 5-8 mins.  Remove from pan and serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

 


Pulled Pork

Before I begin gushing over how much I love pulled pork, I’d like to share a tidbit of positivity I received earlier this week regarding my future prospects.  The school I’ve been in communication with has informed me that Chinese implementation in grades 7 and 9 has been approved by the Education Committee made of faculty/administrators, and now only needs Board approval.  You can bet all my fingers and toes are crossed.

Making pulled pork makes me sing.  No joke.  While I’m seasoning up that pork butt, you can bet I’m humming a little tune to myself, and that tune is most likely not an actual song, but rather the actions I’m performing at that very moment.  Like Marshall from HIMYM.  Sing-narration, it’s a thing.  Yes, pulled pork brings out something special in me, it’s just so darn tasty!

Plus scallions, of course.

I somehow inherited a slow cooker from my mom, and though it’s not the shiniest model on the shelf, it gets the job done.  I knew I was going to want to eat this pork ASAP once it was done, so I cooked it overnight!  Wake up in the morning, and there’s a nice big crock pot full of amazing pork waiting for ya.  It’s like Christmas, because once it’s done, you get to tear it to shreds, like wrapping paper.  Except then you get to eat it.  Bonus.

I like to eat my pulled pork on a roll or in a bowl, in a quesadilla or what rhymes with quesadilla?  Anyway, another thing I love about pulled pork is how versatile it is.  Just slather on some of your favorite barbecue sauce, and it’s good to go.

 

Pulled Pork

Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Makes 6-8 servings

1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-6 lb) boneless pork butt or shoulder
¾ cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoons dry mustard
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Rinse pork roast under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Place onions in crock-pot. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, kosher salt and pepper; mix thoroughly. Rub mixture all over roast and place the roast on top of the onions.

In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, Worcestershire, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic salt and cayenne pepper; whisk to combine. Drizzle about 1/3 of vinegar mixture over roast. Cover and refrigerate remaining vinegar mixture.

Cover crockpot; cook on low for 10-12 hours. Drizzle about 1/3 of reserved vinegar mixture over roast during last ½ hour of cooking.

Remove meat and onions; drain. Chop or shred meat and onions with forks. Serve with remaining vinegar mixture or your favorite barbeque sauce.

 


Bean Thread Noodles with Meat Sauce

I want to be a Chinese teacher.  Obviously, this means I speak Chinese.  I learned Chinese in college and spent a semester abroad in Taipei, Taiwan.  I had an amazing time, and my language skills benefitted immensely.  When people ask me what the best part of my trip was, I often say the food.  Authentic Chinese and Taiwanese food is incredible.  It’s quite different from what we serve here in the States.

This is called a bian dang 便當 and is the Taiwanese equivalent of the bento box.  It’s composed of a slice of pork, sausage, tofu, half a hard boiled egg, and some pickled veggies over white rice.

Going to a large restaurant in Taiwan means ordering a number of dishes for your table, while rice is always available.  It’s also very common to have a take-out meal in Taiwan.  My favorite take-out meals were dumplings and different kinds of noodles.

Dumplings in spicy sauce.

Another great place to get food in Taiwan is at night markets.  Every night these markets appear in the streets of Taiwan, and sell clothing, jewelry, and other small items.  They also sell 小吃 which means “small eats.”  Here are a couple examples.

 

See something you like?  At this vendor, you pick your food-on-a-stick of choice, and it’s cooked right in front of you.

 These are little pieces of fried octopus.  Not my favorite.

These guys are hand held omelettes with pork filling.

I thing I miss most about Taiwan though, was the abundance of bubble tea.  Bubble tea is black tea (though you can make it with other teas) mixed with milk and sugar with large sweetened tapioca pearls.  It was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, and is somewhat popular in the US now, but in Taiwan, you can buy it on practically every street corner.  When I was in Taiwan, I think I drank one every day.  I need to start making it at home.  And now on to my dish.

 

This dish is somewhat inspired by one of my favorite take-out meals while in Taiwan.  Plus I had some ground pork, and didn’t want to make dumplings, and this was a great alternative.  The sauce is slightly tangy and goes great over the bean thread noodles, which are great for slurping by the way.  This dish comes together quickly and serves as a great weeknight meal.

 

my favorite chopsticks!!

Bean Thread Vermicelli with Pork Sauce

Adapted from Martin Yan Quick & Easy

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 pound ground meat (I used ground pork, but beef, chicken or turkey would work too)

¾ cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (I used Sriracha)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 scallions, chopped

2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

4 cups cooked bean thread

Combine the first three ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.  Add the ground meat and stir to coat evenly.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  To make your sauce, combine ingredients from chicken broth to pepper together in a small bowl and mix well.

Place a large frying pan or wok over high heat until hot.  Add oil, swirling to coat the edges.  Add the garlic and scallions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the ground meat and stir fry until browned and crumbly, about 3 minutes.  Add the sauce and bring to a boil.  Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, about a minute.  Remove from heat and ladle over warm noodles.

To cook bean thread noodles, soak in hot water for 5-8 minutes, then strain.

Note: all of these ingredients can be found at an Asian supermarket.  Better regular supermarkets will also carry most of the sauces, but not the noodles.  If there are no Asian markets in your area, asianfoodgrocer.com is a good site for buying Asian foods.