So Porking GoodPosted: September 18, 2010
It’s no secret that I’m a lover of all things pork. Maybe it’s the Chinese upbringing (all amazing Chinese food is made with pork) or maybe because I don’t eat any beef at all and never have (at least not consciously!) so it’s my choice of red meat.
To be honest, I don’t think it’s any of those things at all. Pork is just simply the best meat ever.
My friends know of my massive pork love and the one I get quoted on the most is, “Pork is my favourite food group.” I actually crave pork if I don’t have it for a while and I’m proud to say that I’m the kind of person that eats the entire body of a pig. I think this contributes greatly to my love for pork because I think of it as such an amazing animal that’s so versatile and so delicious! Fergus Henderson is one of my heroes.
In no particular order, here’s a list of some of my favourite pork dishes:
+ My mum’s black pepper pig stomach soup
+ Bak Kut The with pig intestines and spare ribs
+ Pork noodle at the hawker with all the spare parts like intestines, liver and BLOOD mmmm!
+ BBQ pork ribs
+ Char siew
+ Siew yuk
+ Anything with pork crackling
+ Suckling pig
+ Roast pork
I mean, seriously. That animal is magnificent and the sole reason why I would have problems being vegetarian for life. Hi, my name is Sophia and I’m a porkoholic. In the words of Kevin Gillespie of Top Chef season 6, “Pork is my jam.”
However, there are strange little creatures out there who say absolutely crazy things about pork. They say pork smells bad (only if you don’t wash your meat before cooking it, you lazy disgusting cook!), that it’s too close to human flesh (unless you’ve actually dined on human flesh, you need to stop saying this), and the worst of all: they don’t like the taste of it. To that I say you are a lost cause and bless your unfortunate tastebuds for all that you are missing out on!
My housemate and best friend, Jacey, is one of these strange creatures. In fact, I used to make a conscious effort not to use pork as a protein for meals that we would be sharing together. After a month of this, I awoke one morning and actually just craved pork and I think I may have gone mad and eaten pork dishes for three whole days. I do not remember much because it all seemed to pass by in a haze. I plead food coma.
So imagine my surprise when we were shopping in the market last Sunday and I was pressing a bunch of basil right up to my nose (fresh herbs! my other love!), she turned to me and said, “I feel like making a pork dish.” I swear I felt my knees buckle and I stared wide-eyed at her for a moment before squeaking, “Are you serious?!”
I didn’t give her too long to think about it lest she changed her mind but we huddled together in front of a closed stall with her iPhone and browsed the Epicurious application for roast pork recipes. We read several before deciding that this recipe was the best despite the crazy cooking time.
I won’t repost the recipe because I didn’t augment it at all apart from the cooking time, although I may suggest going a little easier on the salt. I found it just a tad too salty for my liking, but then again, I used ungrounded sea salt so that could’ve been my own fault. My other trick was to pat the outside of the pork completely dry and sprinkle salt on top of it to encourage crackling to form :)
Thing is, I had every intention of cooking the pork for six hours. But it took me longer than I expected to put the pork in the oven, that if we had stuck with the suggested cooking time, dinner would have been at 10 p.m. Yeah, I suck at timing dinners.
Jacey and I headed to the gym for a workout and were pumped to dive into our meal. We popped the oven open and the meat looked good, but the skin wasn’t crisp. I’m still unsure if I would’ve eventually wound up with crackling had I not sped things up but I’m guessing no.
So being impatient and impossibly ravenous, I cranked the temperature up to 200˚C, put the oven on grill mode and left it for 15 minutes. I should’ve done 10 because I think I overcooked the meat a tiny bit.
Looks a little bit overcooked, am I right?
My hands in action. I hold my knives funny and my grip on the meat is wrong but it was hot and I was trying my best to cut through amazingly crispy crackling. Mmmm!
I had all these intentions of making roast potatoes with duck fat, a gravy and some other roast vegetables to serve with the dish. However, starvation and impatience won out so we had the pork plain (I had it with Dijon mustard, actually) and we had a simple leafy salad with raw carrots and a simple vinaigrette dressing. It was still insanely satisfying.
Best part of it was, we had leftovers.
Inspired by the amazing Roast Rolls in the David Jones Foodhall, which by the way, I massively love and have at least once a month. I missed it badly when I was back in Malaysia last year. There was a running joke somewhere that I’m the President of the DJ’s Roast Pork Roll Fan Club and honestly, with the amount of people I’ve dragged there to have it with me, I’m starting to think I should receive a small percentage of their profit. Probably not the ultimate bestbestbest pork sandwich in Melbourne but it does the job and it’s under $10. What more do you want?!
Wow, did I run off on a tangent there.
This is why I love leftovers, especially leftover roast. You get such wonderful meals out of them! I made this sandwiches and brought them to a friend’s house and we had them for lunch. My friend wanted to toast them so we did (which helped a lot) and I wouldn’t normally put fresh rocket leaves to be baked because that’s crazy, but I had no choice here.
For the sandwich, I sauteed some onions with butter until caramelised then I scooped them out. Whatever sweet greasy residue was left in my pan, I added chicken stock and cornflour to for the gravy. The Turkish bread loaves were sliced in half horizontally, and spread with butter. It was then filled with rocket, roast pork (and crackling!), onions and gravy. When I got to my friend’s place, she whipped out her jar of wild pear chutney which we both spread generously on our bread and it made the sandwich about 909280x better.
Let me say it again: I love pork.
Author’s note: Jacey is now a reformed pork hater. Since this dinner, she declared that one night of each week’s dinner should be Pork Night. I nearly teared at her joyous declaration and would like to claim sole responsibility for turning her around on this matter. Yes, I am that good.