I think people must be so tired of me waxing lyrical about Asian food. I’ve said it a million times probably, on this blog, in my Yummy magazine column, in events, with friends, with people I’ve just met. Too often I see their eyes go glassy, like they’re just about to fall asleep, and that’s my signal to suddenly burst out, “Enough about food! Tell me all about you!!”
I totally understand though! No sane human can listening to my yammering on about cilantro and sesame oil, sushi withdrawals, and the nagging discontent I feel when I have less then three types of bagoong (shrimp paste) in my pantry.
That’s one of things I love about having a blog. One of the delicious secret pleasures this blog brings me. Over here I can’t see the glassy eyes. Over here, if someone is bored, they can just leave silently and I’ll never have to know. Over here I can yammer to my heart’s content about whatever I want, all I want, and there are no societal norms to stop me. Over here I can have my fun with grammatical strictures and throw caution, and punctuation, to the wind, and indulge in wild run-on sentences, which are my absolute favorite grammatical mistake! And, I can start my sentences with an “and”…my next favorite grammatical mistake.
Upon reflection, I suppose that’s all a little self-serving. And (AND!) shame on me for that. Which is why I can never answer questions like “what is your blog’s purpose?” or “who do you write for?” very well…subsequently looking a bit like a dolt when I do.
(I’m also guilty of indiscriminate use of “…”)
What’s my blog’s purpose? I love food and writing. A blog is a nifty little venue where I can enjoy both. Who do I write for? Well, if I am 100% honest…me. I started this blog writing for myself and, ten years later, that is still true.
But (and that’s a big but), over the years, as people have left comments here, and as I’ve met some of these people in person, or corresponded with them over email, I have realized something. That I don’t write just for me. I also write for you. And (AND!) by you I mean all of you (no matter how few or far between) that come here because you are just the same sort of crazy, dorky person as I am. Because my incessant yammering has somehow, beyond all logic and explanation, found its way to you and your own special yammerings.
And (AND!) I can never thank this miraculous thing called the Internet enough for that.
So (I also like to start my sentences with “so”…let’s just blame literary style for that one ok?), Asian food. Soy sauce, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cilantro, hoisin, oyster sauce, fish sauce, shrimp paste, mirin, rice vinegar, black vinegar, kecap manis, kaffir lime, tamarind, coconut milk, pandan…all of this and more make up the flavors that I love the most, and you can be sure that I will have at least the majority of these in my pantry at any given moment.
So (SO!) I can make something exactly like this. And (AND!) share it with you.
Lu Rou Fan (Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice Bowl)
(adapted from The Woks of Life)
- 700 grams skin-on pork belly, cut into 1/2” pieces
- 2-3 teaspoons oil
- 1 to 1 1/2 oz. buri palm sugar (or about 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar)
- 1 small onion or a couple of shallots, finely chopped
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1/2” pieces
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 2 cups water
- 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled (optional)
For the spices (wrap everything in a piece of cheese cloth or gauze and tie with kitchen string):
- 3 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
- 3 pieces orange peel
- 2 slices fresh ginger
– Bring a pot of water to a boil. When the water is boiling add the chopped pork belly and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
– Heat the oil in a wok or pan over low heat. When the oil is hot, add the sugar. Cook the sugar until it starts to melt and then add the onions. Turn the heat up to medium high and fry the onions, stirring, until softened.
– Add the mushrooms to the pan with the onions and stir-fry for another couple minutes until the mushrooms start to soften.
– Add the blanched pork, shao xing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and water. Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the spice bundle, along with the peeled hardboiled eggs, and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Alternately, I also like to stick the whole pot, uncovered, in a low oven and forget about it for a while (in which case you need to stir less frequently).
– When the meat is already tender, remove the spice packet from the pot and turn up the heat to medium high to thicken the sauce, stirring occasionally. If you cooked the meat in the oven (like me!), then return the pot to the stovetop for this step. I also like to remove the eggs for this step and slice them in half. This should take about 5 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon, but there should still be plenty of it left. Return the eggs to the sauce once thickened.
– Serve over steamed white rice.
Some changes I did to the original recipe: The original calls for dried tangerine peel…which I didn’t have so I substituted it with regular orange peel (which I think worked out fine). Also, I used the buri palm sugar that I scored from Ritual — those brown tablets in the photo above (the original calls for rock sugar). Its deep molasses-y taste adds depth I feel, as well as sweetness to this dish (it is also awesome in oatmeal so if you are anywhere near Ritual I highly recommend that you give it a try!).
This dish really goes far. Since you cut the pork into smaller pieces than usual, and add eggs, and serve it over rice, less than a kilo of pork will feed much more people. Unless you are my husband and I, who naturally eat more than usual to begin with, especially if it involves Asian flavors and lots of rice.
I hope I haven’t bored you to bits with my ramblings. Then again, if you are still here, after all these years of my rambling, then I guess you are one of my tribe. In which case…grab a bowl and make yourself at home!
P.S. You still have a chance to join my giveaway! One lucky reader will win a tin of La Chinata pimenton de la Vera and a pot of my favorite “por asados” spice mix that I buy from my regular vendor at the Boqueria market in Barcelona! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this blogpost and tell me what you would do with the spices. Deadline is October 16…go, go, go! 🙂