Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Yes you can do - Crispy Pork Belly

Pork Belly dishes have become quite a trend these days. We are not afraid of eating this luscious meat. Jarg used to turn his face when I mention my wish of cooking Pork Belly. Ever since I introduced him to BBQ Crispy Pork in China Town, his new taste bud developed. I successfully converted him which means I can cook this meat at home and don't have to eat it alone, yippy! This recipe is one of Jarg's favorites today. He would even request it time to time.

This time I am sharing with you a dish which I kind of borrow from different recipes combine the memory of my Grand Mother's caramelized Crispy Pork Crackling which we used to snack on when we were kids. It is Thai-Chinese joint venture like my ancestors. The dish requires 3 different methods of cooking: boil, fry and caramelize. The cooking process will reduce the very large amount of fat. So you need not to feel guilty about it. At the end you will have crackling and soft & crunchy meat with slightly spiced sweet and salty with touch of tangy.

Some ingredients such Palm Sugar and Black Vinegar can be purchase in Asian market. Please add them to you shopping list next time you visit Asian shop. It's useful to have these two in your kitchen cabinet.
I admit, it is time consuming in preparing this dish. You may do the first step of boiling in advance. I guarantee - you will LOVE it. It is worth your time spending in the kitchen...perhaps having a nice glass of sherry while you are cooking this wonderful dish and enjoy the process. This recipe was put together with true passion...xxx

Caramelized Crispy Pork Belly
Ca. 4 persons

Ca. 500 grams Pork Belly about 1-1 ½ cm thick each
1 tablespoon White Vinegar
Water enough to cover plus 2 cm over pork belly
3 Tablespoons chopped Scallion/Spring Onion
1 ½ Table spoons shredded Ginger
1 Teaspoon chopped Garlic
3-4 Dried Chili Pepper
1 Red Chili Pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips for garnish
3 tablespoons Palm Sugar
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons light Soy Sauce
1 shot glass dry Sherry or Chinese Cooking Wine
1 Teaspoon Chinese Black Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar


Prepare the Pork: boil and fry
1.       In medium sauce pan, add water, vinegar and pork belly over medium-high heat.
2.      Let it boil and reduce the heat to medium. Take out white scum/foam with mesh spoon. Continue cooking for about 40 minutes. This will get rid of strong pork flavor and tenderize the meat and skin.
3.      Take off the heat and the pot cool down for at least 30 minutes. Take out pork belly and let it drain. You can prepare this step a day or so in Advance – wrap the pork and refrigerate.
4.      Cut the cooked pork belly into 3 cm  pieces
5.      Heat non stick pan on medium heat, add pork belly on single layer and let it fry in its own fat until crispy and brown and turn. This process can take up to 10-12 minutes depend on the thickness of the pork belly.
6.      After both sides are brown and crisp, take out and put on paper towel to absorb the extra fat.
Caramelized the pork belly
1.      Using the same pan and oil from frying. Pour out the fat leave about 2 tablespoons for the sauce. Over medium heat, add dried Chili and cooking for 1 minute then takeout the chili. 
2.      Add Scallion and Garlic. Fry it for about 3-4 minutes.
3.      Add Ginger, Palm Sugar, Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Vinegar and Sherry then reduce heat to low-medium. Let the sauce cook and thicken for about 5-6 minutes. Check flavor – Sweet and Salty and add adjust.
4.      Add Crispy Pork Belly and fried Chili to the sauce and mix well until all pieces are coated with sauce.
5.      Put Caramelized Crispy Pork Belly to serving plate and top with Red Chili.
Serving Suggestion
Serve with steamed Jasmine Rice and Steamed Vegetables such Broccoli and Carrots for a complete one dish meal.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Video from Stephen Colluci Makes Almond Brioche

 From NY Magazine - Grub street- NY on 2010/05

A Yum!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mango goes Dinner

My local supermarket was offering fantastic sales on organic mango and avocado. I took this rare opportunity to fill the fruit basket. The Mangoes were in a perfect stage between young & ripe. My mouth was watering for Mango Salad…beautiful memory of home…Thailand. After tasting a piece I decided to do a nice dinner salad as my craving had grown.
The mango was still firm and lightly crisp. The flavor was fruitful sweet and sour. As a main dinner course I want add chicken breast. Here we go Mango Salad – the East meets West version and of course with touch of Thai flavor.

When you purchase the mango make sure it fresh and firm – test by lightly squeeze the fruit. It should not be red or orange –that can be ripe. The measurement of the ingredients for salad sauce may need adjustment, depends upon the tanginess of fresh mango. I suggest you taste it before you start. Keep in mind the combination of 3 flavors – sweet, sour and salty (triple S) to guide you. If you do your shopping at an Asian shop you may have selection of products from Southeast Asia. They can be very sour that depends upon the kind of mango you buy. Please ask the sales person. If your mango is quite sour then reduce the amount of mango you use and adjust the flavor of your salad sauce unless you love very tangy flavor.

Steamed Chicken Mango Salad
For 4 persons 
For steamed Chicken
1 large Chicken Breast – room temperature
1 fresh lemon grass use only white part, cut into 3-4 cm pieces
½ medium Onion or some green part of Scallions or Spring Onions
Sea Salt
4-5 cups Water to steam the chicken

For Salad
1 ½ to 2 Cups of fresh Mango cut into strips
1 large Carrot cut into strips then soak in cold water for ca 10 minutes, drain. (This makes it crisp)
1 medium Cucumber cut into strips then soak in cold water for ca 10 minutes, drain. (This makes it crisp)
2 large Shallots lengthily sliced
3 Scallions or Spring Onions sliced
3 tablespoons chopped Coriander
1 small Red Sweet Pepper cut into thin strips
1 Red Chili Pepper seeded and thinly sliced
3 cups chopped Arugula Salad
½ cup Roasted Cashew nuts

Salad Sauce
¼ cup fruity Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 ½ to 2 tablespoon of Raw Sugar
1 to 1 ½ Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
Liquid Honey
Sea Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Adjust the amount of Sweet, Sour and Salty according to Mango flavor

1.      Heat all ingredients for Steamed Chicken in a small sauce except Chicken Breast until almost boil.
2.      Add Chicken Breast and reduce the heat to low-medium. Let it simmer for ca. 10 minutes or cook through.
3.      Take the sauce pan of the heat and let it sits for ca.12-15 minutes.
4.      Take Chicken Breast out from steamed liquid. Let it cool to room temperature. Reserve liquid to drink after the meal.
5.      Shred Chicken Breast with hands. Make sure the piece it is not too big or too small. You should be able to have a nice bite of chicken breast.
6.      In large salad bowl put shredded Chicken Breast and all vegetables and herbs except chopped Arugula.
7.      In a small bowl mix all ingredients for Salad Sauce and mix well.
8.      Pour small amount of Salad Sauce at a time over the salad mix, gently turning the salad several times. Taste and add more sauce or certain flavor as needed. Think of Sweet, Sour and Salty.
9.      Using large plates, spread chopped Arugula equally in each plate. In center place Steam Chicken and Mango Salad and top with Roasted Cashew Nuts. Please divide salad juice on each plate.

Serving suggestion:
Serve hot liquid from steamed chicken in 4 tea cups after salad. Accompany with the salad with small bowl of Jasmine Rice to complete a wonderful light dinner or Lunch. It is enough for 8 servings as an appetizer.