HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.
Showing posts with label Pork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pork. Show all posts

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Double Cut Pork Chops with Roasted Garlic Butter and a side of Stir Fried Asparagus and Mushrooms

        

Pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat.  It accounts for 38 percent of meat production worldwide.  You’ll have trouble finding it in the Middle East and most of the Muslim world because both Jewish kosher and Islamic halal diets ban it outright.  But almost everywhere else on earth including Asia, Europe, and the Americas, pork is in recipes and on menus everywhere.  Nowhere comes close to China which, at any given moment, has 1 billion pigs on its farms. 

In the mid 80s, in the US, the National Pork Board called pork “the other white meat”, advertising so successful I wish I’d written it myself:  87 percent of consumers identified pork with the slogan.  And still do, despite the fact that it hasn’t been used since 2011.  It might come as a bit of a surprise to know first, that the USDA considers pork a red meat and second, that the only real reason the Pork Board jumped on the white meat bandwagon was the public’s perception that chicken and turkey were healthier than red meat.  It is true that Pork, with its fat trimmed, is leaner than most meats but certainly not chicken or turkey.  And even the ‘new’ leaner pork is still high in cholesterol and saturated fat. And as any good cook will tell you, fat is a flavor carrier that’s hard to replace.  But chefs have found a way to amp up pork’s flavor.  They brine their pork.  But I had never tried it until recently.  And I am here to say, I am a convert.  I recently brined what we jokingly referred to as ‘a side of pork’, chops so enormous they must have been almost three inches thick. And the results were spectacular.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spicy Pork Noodles with Bok Choy from David Tanis...and they're Gluten-Free!


        
Maxim's Palace Hong Kong as I've never seen it...
empty!
I love dim sum, the tapas of China. I will never forget Andrew and my visit to one of the world’s most famous dim sum palaces, the strangely named Maxim’s Palace in Hong Kong.  And if you think it’s an odd name for a completely Chinese restaurant, you will likely find it equally surprising that the place takes up the entire second floor of Hong Kong’s City Hall.  There, in a vast space that resembles a western-style hotel ballroom complete with chandeliers, legions of Chinese ladies push cart after cart of dim sum through a maze of tables for 12.  The place is perennially packed, takes no reservations and requires a level of patience which quickly escalates the longer the wait.  We went there on a Sunday at noon.  You might have been able to convince me that every family in Hong Kong was there, so massive were the crowds and so long was the wait.   But the dim sum were sublime, the best I’d ever tasted.  I’ve wondered if I could ever re-create some of the dishes there.  So I was delighted to see that David Tanis had taken up the challenge.  In his New York Times column, David came up with a recipe for one particular dim sum for which I have a special fondness.  It’s the spicy pork-filled dumpling full of garlic, ginger and chiles.  And he did so without having to fill endless wanton wrappers to enjoy the flavors of this very satisfying dish. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Asian Spiced Barbecue in the dead of Winter

        

         The craving for ribs doesn’t end the minute the grill gets garaged for the winter.  Fortunately, Bobby Flay developed an oven/broiler combination that takes the place of the backyard barbecue and delivers, in no time at all, an excellent rack of Baby Back Ribs.  The whole of Chef Flay’s recipe included a Honey-Mustard Glaze.  I wanted to make mine pure Asian, since I also wanted our dinner to include an Asian Cucumber Salad and, because I am deep-diving into Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” for an upcoming post, I wanted to serve their Scallion Pancakes.  I followed Chef Flay’s technique to the letter and made a Honey-based Glaze cranked up with Asian ingredients.  The ribs were fall-apart good and amazingly tender. The glaze topped them off with sticky sweet and spicy sauce. The Cucumber Salad both complemented the ribs and colored the plate.  And the Scallion Pancakes were more than passable.  But you’ll have to wait on the Trader Joe’s post to hear all about those.  The miracle of this meal was in its timing: Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, perfectly sauced ribs in under 2 hours.  No overnight marinade required!  (Try finding a recipe that doesn’t require at least 7 hours advance preparation and you’ll immediately spark to this one.) So what is Bobby Flay’s flawless technique?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cooking School: Melissa Clark and Alex Guarnaschelli's Pork Chops with Shiitake Mushrooms



        
Melissa Clark
Melissa Clark, one of our favorite New York Times Food columnists, has just started a new Wednesday feature. Called “The Restaurant Takeaway” it is ‘devoted to restaurant dishes you can make in your own kitchen, tested and tweaked for home cooks’.  If the first chapter is any indication, we’re in for a very good time.  This past week, Melissa teamed up with Alex Guarnaschelli, whom any foodie worth his salt knows from her stints on “Chopped” and, prior to that, “Alex’s Day Off”.  This recipe trades on her experience at Butter, her twelve year old restaurant at 415 Lafayette St. (between 4th St. and Astor Place (Tel: 212 253 2828) that has now been
Alex Guarnaschelli 
spun off into a second location in midtown at 70 West 45
th St which uses the same telephone number (!).  The downtown Butter is a beautiful room and may be one of the most under-rated restaurants in New York.  Chef Guarnaschelli is masterful with meat and this recipe may change the way you cook it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Meatball Shop's Spicy Pork Meatballs with Parmesan Cream Sauce


"Meatball Mike" Chernow (left)  and
Chef Daniel Holzman
            Chef Daniel Holzman and his partner, Michael Chernow, AKA “Meatball Mike” are New York’s Kings of the Meatball.  With the opening of their 5th location, on the Far East side of Manhattan, at 1462 Second Avenue, they are the undisputed champs of the Meatball scene.  Their other locations are all downtown – in Chelsea, at 200 Ninth Avenue at 22nd Street, on the Lower East Side at 84 Stanton Street, and in the Village which has two locations:

170 Bedford just below Christopher St. and 64 Greenwich Avenue south of 7th Avenue South.  I had an errand to do which landed me practically outside their Greenwich Avenue door so I finally got to sample their beautiful balls.  I chose the Spicy Pork variation, a light and scrumptious meatball--or rather meatballs since an order consists of 5 the size of golf balls.  But what really knocked me out was the creamy Parmesan sauce that topped the dish. It was a complete indulgence of course and I have no clue what the fat content was nor do I care.  Life is meant to be lived, not calorie counted.  I’d made my foray into meatball territory alone so of course I wanted to make them for Andrew.  Or at least, that’s what I told myself. In truth, I could have eaten the whole batch of the things all by myself.  But then who doesn’t love a great meatball?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cosmo Goss' Beer-Braised Pork Belly and Arugula Salad


        
Chef Cosmo
Goss "Hop Chef"
Gail Collins, the columnist who calls the New York Times Opinion pages home, loves a good name.  One of her all-time favorites is Butch Otter, the Governor of the great state of Idaho about whom Collins wrote: “ That is not really the point (of her editorial) but I always enjoy writing “Gov. Butch Otter”. For me, there's a chef's name that I enjoy writing too: "Cosmo Goss". But unlike Ms. Collins, I have a really good reason to write it.  He created a dinner salad that I've made twice in a week. And not because I ruined it the first time.  I just wanted more. Cosmo Goss is a chef at Publican restaurants in Chicago. Cosmo was recently named Brewery Ommegang’s “Hop Chef”, as winner of a cooking contest centered on--you guessed it--beer. This wonderful salad is also a salute to Pork Belly.  As if it needed one: Pork Belly is everywhere.  And proof of its popularity is its ever-escalating price.  Mine came in at 4.99 lb. When ground pork is 3.69, you have to wonder why 4.99 for something that looks very much like extremely fatty bacon.  However, one taste of this salad, with its sweet and slightly spicy dressing, golden slices of sauteed pear, tangy arugula and pork belly braised in an artisan ale will convince you that 4.99 is a very little price to pay.  Once you’re over that hump, onto the next one, which is the cost of the requisite ale. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Almond's Brussels Sprouts Hot and Cold and a Carb-Free Stuffed Pork Chop with Dijon Mustard Sauce



        
Jason Weiner with an
un-Monte's Ham
From the moment Almond Restaurant opened 12 years ago in an old roadhouse in Bridgehampton, it’s been a smash hit.  (It’s also been 
featured here before http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2011/06/roasted-asparagus-with-lardons-and.html).  We quickly became regulars drawn by the consistently great food that comes out of Chef Jason Weiner’s kitchen and the wonderful front of the house atmosphere presided over Chef Weiner’s business partner, the inimitable Eric Lemonides.  These two childhood friends have built their careers at some of America’s best restaurants. Jason helped open San Francisco’s
Eric Lemonides in Paris...
last seen in St. Moritz.
Aqua the same year that Eric became General Manager at Piemonte Ovest at the ripe old ages of 24.  But they both came home to roost bringing with them Jason’s farm to table philosophy and Eric’s brilliant way with people. In 2001 they first opened Almond, now at 1 Ocean Road in Bridgehampton (Tel: 631-537-5665) and  in 2008 they took New York by storm with Almond NYC at 12 East 22nd St. (Tel: 212-228-7557).  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce with Mushrooms, Water Chestnuts and Snap Peas


         There’s a Sichuan restaurant close to home in New York that I go to more frequently than I’d like to admit.  There’s a big “B” in the window which means The New York City Board of Health has some "issues" with the place.  In my view, if they haven’t closed it down, and I haven’t experienced any problems after eating there, I’m good to go.  I would have to say this mainly has to do with the fact that the lunch special comes in at $6.75 and includes a choice of soups or egg or spring rolls, three kinds of rice and finally, about 20 main dishes all fairly standard Sichuan fare.  Every one I have tried has never disappointed.   The place also has a Japanese menu and a prominent sushi bar.  I choose to believe that the “B” was assigned to that end of the restaurant.  I am happy to spend so little for such traditional Sichuan dishes as Pork in Garlic Sauce. In fact I like it so much, that this weekend I made it at home.  Once you get the hang of stir-frying, there’s no limit to your kitchen creativity. And if there was one technique that I could pass on to harried, time-pressured home cooks, it would be the stir-fry.  And you don’t need a wok, just a big non-stick frying pan.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend! Time to bring out the Orange and Soy-Glazed Ribs and Coleslaw with Apple and Yogurt Dressing to go with them!


         

        The Un-Official start of summer officially starts this Friday. Out our way, that generally means a lot of premature wearing of summer clothes because we’ll still have a couple of weeks before it gets warm. The cool nights won’t stop the grill fanatics. They’ll haul out their Webers or open up their monster gas grills even if the temperature dips into the 50s.  I love their dedication just as much their wives love their participation in feeding their families.  But I’d prefer have to wait for the warm-up to enjoy grilling. Especially when I can make something as summer-y as Orange and Soy-Glazed St. Louis Cut Pork Ribs and a Coleslaw with the tang of an Apple and Yogurt dressing in the comfort of the kitchen. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mu Shu in Moments from Gourmet Magazine


Ready to be folded, Mu Shu in a Moment!


        
Restaurant General Tso's Chicken
the good, the bad and the ugly.
In our bid to eat healthy, Chinese food has taken quite a hit. We never order it for takeout.  And our visits to Chinese restaurants are few and far between.  But take heart.  We have discovered how easy it is to make Chinese food at home.  Not only does this keep the exotic flavors on our table from time to time, it also solves a lot of the issues we’ve had with the food to begin with.  Despite last week's news that salt might not be all that bad for you, Chinese cooking packs extraordinary levels of the stuff.  The current recommended daily intake of sodium is 2300 mgs. Or about a teaspoon.  A restaurant serving of General Tso’s chicken comes in at 3200 mgs. And, at 1300, more than half the calories that an adult is supposed to consume all day (2000).  That’s before you added an egg roll, which will send the sodium count up another 400 mgs. and the calorie count up another 200.  So much for the General's chicken. But surely Chinese vegetables are healthy?  Not so fast.  A plate of stir-fried greens comes in at 900 calories, eggplant in garlic sauce, 1000.  Then there’s MSG, monosodium glutamate, which has had a bad rap since the 60s when it was associated with “headaches, flushing, sweating, numbness, chest pain, nausea, heart palpitations, and weakness” according to Yale Scientific (www.YaleScientific.org). It was even called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”.  However, according to YS, “researchers have not found any conclusive evidence that links MSG to any of these symptoms, though it is acknowledged that a small minority of people may have mild, short-term reactions to MSG.”  So there!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pork Chops Scarpariello adapted from Gourmet Magazine



        
Italian Immigrants bound for the US.
Notice the preponderance of men.
If you frequent good old Italian-American Red Sauce restaurants, you may be well acquainted with a close cousin of this dish: Chicken Scarpariello.  Its origins, however, are not in Italy but in an Italian American kitchen.  Its name, “Scarapiello”, means “Shoemaker”.  If your imagination takes you to an immigrant shoemaker coming home and making this for dinner, you may not be far off base.  When Italians started immigrating to this country from 1890 on, very often the men went on ahead leaving their wives and children behind until they’d established themselves.  Many early Italian immigrants were barely educated and the early waves were full of laborers and, less often, artisans like shoemakers.  The Italian men latched onto ‘padrones’, immigrants who had arrived a few years earlier.  These men handled lodging, savings and work, giving farms and factories a constant labor supply.  Interestingly, around 50 percent of Italians who immigrated to this country from 1900 to 1920, saved all the money they earned and re-patriated to Italy.   These men never even learned the most rudimentary English.  They pined for their homeland and did everything they could to duplicate the cooking of their wives and mothers back in Italy.  “Scarpariello” is one example.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce from Cook's Illustrated Magazine



Sichuan Province, Land of Plenty
         In one of their masterpieces of science and cooking combined, Cook’s Illustrated chose to take on one of my favorite Chinese Restaurant dishes: Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce.  Sichuan cooking is immediately associated with hot and spicy flavors. The odd thing is that these flavors are relatively new. And initially at least, they were only popular among the poorer segments of Sichuan society.  There was so much else available. Sichuan Province is known as a land of plenty. While landlocked and therefore without seafood, it has an abundance of pigs, poultry, beef cattle, freshwater fish and crayfish.  And it’s been known for its masterful cuisine for hundreds of years.  The first Sichuan restaurant opened in what is now called Hangzhou, its capital city, over 800 years ago. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sticky Chinese Pork Stir-Fry and it's Low Fat too!



         At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the stir-fry is the savior of every harried home cook.  When you have to get dinner on the table in as short a time as possible, a stir-fry’s hard to beat.  It’s all a matter of getting everything prepped and ready to go in this super fast cooking method.   And there’s no need for a wok to do so.  Any large fry pan will do.  There’s endless variety of things you can stir-fry.  This one is my latest discovery and it’s very good.  It’s loaded with vegetables and the most tender pork all bound together in an Asian accented sauce flavored with ginger and garlic. The sauce is the ‘sticky’ part with its hint of honey.  And what’s really impressive is that it’s extremely low fat.  How can you resist?

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Texas Week on Chewing the Fat! First Up, Lauren's Roast Pork Tenderloin with Honeyed Apples and Pecans courtesy of James Villas and a Wild Rice Pilaf. And on Thursday, Kristi's own recipe for Harvest Soup.




         It was quite a coincidence when Andrew came back from his trip to Dallas with not one but two dishes his sister Lauren served him while he was there.  And that same day, my dear friend Kristi, sent along an original recipe of her own.  So I thought this week we’d salute our Texas friends and family with these great dishes, which are just perfect for any fall table. Lauren is a superb cook and her recipes have appeared here before...her Roast Chicken is the best I've ever eaten http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2011/03/laurens-roast-chicken-and-side-of.html  and talk about Texan...her Blueberry Jalapeno sauce has hundreds of hits. http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/06/lauren-readys-pork-loin-with-blueberry.html. So when Lauren writes "We love this!" on a recipe, I sit up and take notice.
Country Gardens last weekend
         Pork seems to lend itself to cooking with fruit of all kinds. How many times have you seen applesauce served on the side with a grilled pork chop?   This is a far more sophisticated pairing, a stuffing made of apples and pecans and scallions soaked in honey and stuffed into pork tenderloin.  And it couldn’t be more seasonal.  It’s high Apple season in Bridgehampton where the Farm Stand was loaded with local varieties that have just been harvested.  In this dish, the tart and tangy Granny Smith is used, a perfect counterbalance to the crunch of the pecans and sweetness of the honey.   I confess to having been intimidated with the task of carefully carving a pocket for the stuffing. But I managed with the use of a sharp 10-inch knife, which I carefully slipped into the meat and ran down the length of the tenderloin stopping at one inch from the end.  I needn’t have been so anxious: I prepped this dinner out in Bridgehampton, brought it into town and asked Andrew if it looked like his sister’s.  Hers, he informed me, was butterflied, the stuffing laid into the crease of the meat and then tied with twine in multiple places.  The stuffing oozed out the top and, he said, looked perfectly fine.  She’d also made an ideal side dish with the pork—a Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms.  An old Texas favorite?  Quite the contrary, it’s a Minnesota specialty that highlights their locally grown rice.  Given our recent “Arsenic in Rice” and that Texas rice is high on that list, the Minnesota connection came as a relief.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our 325th Post! Melissa Clark's Quick Banh Mi with Pickled Carrots and Daikon


  
         Today marks another milestone on Chewing the Fat. It’s our 325th post and sometime in the very near future we will achieve our 300,000th page view.  Not bad for a couple of self-taught cooks who just love to bake and cook and have never had a lesson in our lives. But that was the whole idea when we started: If we can cook it or bake it, you can cook it or bake it.   And although it may appear that we are whizzes in the kitchen, I can quite promise you that Andrew and I do not share our bombs—our soufflés that flop, our spice mixtures gone haywire, our cakes that didn’t rise.  We never publish anything that didn’t turn out right until it does turn out right.  I think this is why when we get comments from Mary in Oyster Bay, Kate in Alberta, Lauren in Dallas or Bubbles in Montreal, I am always so pleased that they really use the recipes we post, that their guests and/or husbands love their cooking.  So here’s to all of us who get our kicks in the kitchen, who love discovering new tastes, new adventures in cooking old favorites and new ways to please everyone who comes to our table. And one more thing:  Just when I think what can I possibly cook today? How can I find something new to share with our readers?  Along comes a recipe like today’s Banh Mi sandwich with its Pickled Carrots and Daikon.  And for the first time, I made my own pickles in all of 30 minutes flat.  And guess what? If I can make my own pickles, you can too. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Asian Pork in Lettuce Wraps from Chef Ryan Lowder



         Alright, I cheated little on this one.  The actual recipe is for something called “Pork Larb” but, when I first said that I was going to make a dish by that name, Andrew made a face and suggested that, for appetite appeal alone, I should change it.  Because there are so many things to recommend it, I am doing just that.  This sweet and salty, sour and spicy warm meat salad is the national dish of Laos.   There’s also a variation of the dish made in Northern Thailand.  This version seems to straddle the border.  It comes together in all of 25 minutes.  And the ease with which it’s made is matched by the fun of eating it.  You put the bowl containing the pork in the center of the table.  Next to it goes the refreshing dipping sauce and a platter of vivid green Boston or Butter Lettuce leaves.  Then everyone around the table just digs in.  And where did this recipe come from?  Salt Lake City, of course.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Smothered Pork Chops inspired by Gene Hovis



         My dear friend Yvonne introduced me to Gene Hovis.  Not that I ever met him in person.  Yvonne, who knows everyone, and I do mean everyone, introduced me to Gene via his wonderful Cookbook cum memoir, ‘Uptown Down Home’ which was published in 1987.  Gene was an extraordinary fellow.  As a young boy growing up in Salisbury NC, he was sent each summer to visit an aunt in New York City.  According to his friend David Columbia, one of Gene’s earliest recollections was asking his mother what the difference was between the public drinking fountains that were “For Whites Only” and those that he had to use.  When his mother told him that there was no difference but that those were the rules, Gene announced he wanted to live in New York when he grew up because everybody drank from the same fountain.  And that’s exactly what he did.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Spring Stew of Pork, Mushroom and Peas on Parmesan Croutons

 
        A stew for Spring may seem counter-intuitive but this one is quick and easy to prepare—to say nothing of how delicious it is. After starting with a quick sauté of diced pancetta and shallots,  I was quite surprised at how quickly the pork cooked and how much juice it released as I cooked it.  It made this recipe a perfect candidate for a weeknight.   It’s also quite adaptable.  You can go stop your cooking once you’ve got the pan sauce to the right consistency.  Or you can forge ahead and add the tiny bit of cream that enriches the dish even further.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chile


Farmers Market Asparagus
Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chile

West 66th Street and Broadway

The Farmer's Market in Richard Tucker Square
        We live in a very urban setting in New York and it comes as somewhat a surprise to visitors that there’s a thriving Farmers Market in our midst three days a week.  It's just a couple of blocks down from us and right in front of Lincoln Center. Its presence really shouldn't be a surprise. New York has the largest and most diverse outdoor urban farmers market network in the country.  What began in 1976 with 12 farmers in a parking lot on 59th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan has now grown to 54 markets with over 230 family farms and fishermen participating, and over 30,000 acres of farmland protected from development. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

A recipe for Clay Pot Pork from John Willoughby in the New York Times



Wednesday is the day New York foodies wait all week for. It’s Dining Out Day in the New York Times.  There’s a whole section to devour.  Restaurant Reviews, a column called “Off the Menu” which lists restaurant openings and closings along with chefs comings and goings.  There are  “Wines of the Times”, and then there are the recipes.  Here we’re treated to the superb Melissa Clark’s “A Good Appetite” (much more on that in a future post or two) and recently an intriguing article by John Willoughby, author of 8 cookbooks, the latest of which is called "Grill It". But in the Times, John wrote  about Braising.
I associate a good Braise with cold winter temperatures and a heavy pot on the stove cooking away for hours.  That means it’s almost time to put the Braise to rest for the season.  But I was intrigued by the premise of the article that Doc (as John Willoughby is called) wrote on the subject.  It was about his adventures in creating braises without the almost mandatory instruction to brown the meat before adding it to the braise. 
An authentic Vietnamese Clay Pot
but you can make this dish in a saute pan with a lid
The purpose of browning is to create something called the Maillard reaction:  As the meat is seared over high heat, the proteins and carbohydrates interact to produce distinct flavor compounds which come alive when the liquid is added to the pot.  The result is a richer, deeper flavor.  Doc wanted to find out if you could literally cook the spices and other aromatics into the meat—penetrating it in with flavor.  He performed this feat on a Lamb Tagine and he braised chicken with Indian flavors.  But what caught my eye was his recipe for Clay Pot Pork.
When I was last in Hong Kong, I’d really loved the Vietnamese cooking I encountered.  Clay Pot Pork is a Vietnamese classic and I couldn’t wait to try it.  It did not disappoint.  Doc pointed out that in place of browning the meat, the Vietnamese caramelize the meat by actually making caramel.
I used Organic Brown Sugar but you can use
White Sugar if you'd like
        That is really a very easy process.  I took Organic sugar, put it not in a Clay Pot but just in my large sauté pan.  It quickly caramelized at which point I added chicken stock and fish sauce and made a beautiful poaching liquid. The aromatics went in next and finally the Pork Shoulder.  It bubbled away on the stove for only an hour.  Served on Basmatic rice ringed with tender baby peas, the dish was an absolute winner.   Using very easy-to-find ingredients, it’s almost amazing how satisfyingly complex this wonderful sauce becomes.  Since Doc pointed it out, I should too: The fish sauce does not in any way make the dish ‘fishy’, it just provides a lovely saltiness. Go ahead and make this and I am sure whoever you cook it for will be astonished at your Asian cooking ability.
Recipe for Clay Pot Pork from John Willoughby
Using Pork Shoulder makes this a very economical dish
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup chicken stock, more if necessary
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 small fresh chili, minced (optional)
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias, green and white parts separated
1 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder (or pork belly) cut into 1-inch cubes
Steamed white rice for serving.

1. Put the sugar in a medium-size heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium heat, shaking gently every once in a while, until it starts to melt. Start stirring with a fork and continue, crushing clumps of sugar so that the sugar melts evenly. When the sugar is liquid, continue to cook for another minute or so until it darkens, then remove from heat.
2. Combine the chicken stock and fish sauce and carefully add at arm’s length to the sugar (it will splutter and pop). Turn heat to medium high, return sugar mixture to the heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until well combined. (If the sugar clumps when you add the liquid, don’t worry, it will melt again.)
3. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, pepper, chili if using, and the white portion of the scallions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are nicely softened, 2 to 3 minutes.




4. Add pork to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partly cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally and adding a splash of stock or water if the pan looks too dry, until the pork is very tender and the liquid has reduced to a medium-thick sauce, about 1 hour.


5. Remove from heat, add the green part of the scallions, and serve over steamed white rice.
Yield: 4 servings.