Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Red Cooked Pork

Served with steamed rice and pak choi, to cut through the richness of the fatty pork belly
Red cooking is what you would expect- the cooking process (a slow braise) imparts a red colour to your chosen meat. The flavour is rich, slightly sweet and deep. This is a variant of another recipe from Sunflower's blog- I have used other recipes, but this is my favourite. This time I made it, I did not use potatoes, which are used as a thickening agent as well as an extra comforting carb. I rather like drowning my rice in the thinner liquid, but you may feel differently- if so you can refer to Sunflowers instruction. I also cooked it for a lot longer than suggested, about 2 hours longer. For this reason, I use a casserole, and not a wok. The meat holds together, but barely, and the skin and fat from the pork belly is a soft, gelatinous treat.

You may need a trip to your local Chinatown for the fermented red beancurd and anything else, but nothing on the list of ingredients should be hard to find.

*Update 14/10/15*
This is still a fairly regular meal I make. I haven't changed anything I do cooking-wise, but I would like to recommend having some good chilli oil to hand when eating this.
I cooked this last night- here are some new photos:


2 tbsp oil
About 400g belly pork, cut into small chunks
1 rounded tbsp of red fermented beancurd, mashed
2 tbsp of the red pickling juice from the fermented beancurd
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 - 3 slices ginger
1 tsp five spice powder
3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 star anise
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp dark soy or mushroom soy
3 tsp sugar
some ground pepper

Heat the oil to a high heat in a casserole, and stir fry the ginger and garlic until fragrant. Add the beancurd with some liquid from the jar, five spice and star anise, cook for a few seconds, then add the pork. Continue to stir fry for a few minutes, then add the wine, soy sauces and sugar, plus enough water to cover the pork. Bring the pan to the boil, and then reduce to a low heat.
Cook for about 2 hours on a very low simmer, until the meat is extremely soft.
Serve with rice.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A Small Collection of Elderflower Drink Recipes

Gooseberry and Elderflower Cordial, Gooseberry and Elderflower Vodka, Elderflower Cordial

To make elderflower cordial, you will need:
2.5 kg sugar
about 30 elderflower heads- check for bugs, thick green stalks removed
2 unwaxed lemons
85g citric acid

Put the sugar and 1.5 litres of water in a large saucepan and put over a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir from time to time. When all the sugar has dissolved to syrup, bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Leave to cool slightly- go and pick your elderflowers now if your you have a nearby supply. Pare off the lemon zest with a peeler, and then cut the lemon up into slices. Add the lemon, the elderflowers and the citric acid. Leave for 24 hours.

The next day, strain the elderflower cordial through a sieve lined with muslin. Using a funnel, pour the cordial into sterilised bottles.

To make gooseberry and elderflower cordial, the procedure is much the same. When the sugar has dissolved, add 1kg of halved gooseberries (no need to top and tail) and boil the syrup for about 8 minutes. Let it cool slightly, and add the elderflower and citric acid in the same quantities as the above recipe. No lemons this time. Leave to cool and bottle as above.

For something a little stronger, and even easier to make, you can try gooseberry and elderflower vodka. I filled a jar about halfway with halved gooseberries, about 8 elderflower heads, a good pour of caster sugar and filled it to the top with vodka. The only downside is the waiting time- at least a month is recommended. I am trying to leave all my vodkas for a year, so I can drink suitably seasonal alcohol all year round come 2014.