Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spiced Braised Nyonya Pork

I returned from the holidays with a bit of a head cold, but thankfully some days off before I needed to return to work. With a cold and the temperature hovering around -20C, leaving the confines of my apartment was not high on my list of things to do. Luckily, I left a well-stocked freezer before leaving for vacation. Digging around, I found a thick slice of pork shoulder and a recipe that didn't require a trip to the grocery store. It was a bit difficult to cook because I couldn't exactly tell when the ingredients became fragrant, but the end result seemed rich and satisfying. Perfect for a cold winter day. I substituted kecap manise for the double black soy sauce and sugar, but included the original below.

One year ago: Greek Style Penne with Lamb and Parsnips
Two years ago: Spinach and Cheese Strata

Spiced Braised Nyonya Pork (from Cradle of Flavor)

12 shallots (285g), coarsely chopped
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 piece galangal, 3" long, cut into matchsticks
2 pieces cinnamon stick, 4" long
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
900g boneless nonlean pork, cut into 1.5 - 2" cubes
1 cup water
3 tbsp cider or rice vinegar
2 tbsp double-black soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 fresh Holland chiles, cut into find matchsticks (optional, for garnish)

1. Place shallots in a small food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste.
2. Heat oil in a 3 or 4 quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add galangal and cook, stirring frequently until golden and fragrant, 2 - 3 minutes.
3. Add shallot paste and saute, stirring until paste no longer smells raw and is lightly golden, 3 - 4 minutes.
4. Add cinnamon, cloves, and star anise and saute until fragrances waft up.
5. Add pork cubes and saute on all sides until they begin to brown, 5 - 10 minutes.
6. Add water, vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
7. Cover partially and cook at a steady, gentle simmer, stirring occasionally until 3/4 of the liquid has evaporated and meat offers little resistance when poked, about 2 hours.
8. Remove lid and raise heat to medium. Bring to a rapid simmer, stirring often but gently. Cook until liquid has simmered away, about 30 minutes.
9. Transfer pork to a serving dish and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes. Garnish with chiles if desired.

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