This is the beginning of my third year of blogging and I'm pleased to report that in the first two years I have had over 6200 page views, 5200 of which were in 2013 alone. I'm flattered that people find my posts interesting and useful.
In reviewing my efforts, I realized that the majority of the recipes I chose were from either America, Colonial America, medieval England, or Renaissance England. While there is nothing wrong with that (they were tasty and fun!), I decided my challenge for 2014 was to explore other cultures.
So I hope to post at least once a month recipes that explore the international part of my cookbook collection. A good way to start is with my favorite dim sum dish, a Chinese specialty that uses roast pork mixed with onions and a sauce and is tucked inside a ball of dough. Then it is steamed. One dim sum house I've been to calls it a "Chinese hamburger" because it is as popular as an American burger. I find them wonderful!
My guide in this adventure is The Dim Sum Book by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, published in 1982.
I've learned that the secrets to following a Chinese recipe are (1) not to be intimidated by the list of ingredients and (2) recognize that once everything is put together, the cooking part is generally straightforward and easy.
Plan ahead! How will you steam the final product? I have a set of stackable bamboo steamers that fit on top of one of my saucepans and in my wok. What else could you do?
Here's the recipe for the Roast Pork (Char Siu), page 64:
4 1/2 pounds lean pork butt
In a bowl, combine and mix well:
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons blended whiskey
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cake wet preserved bean curd * (see note below)
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
|The white jar holds the five-spice powder|
2. Line a roasting pan with foil. Place the strips of meat in a single layer at the bottom of the roasting pan.
3. Pour the remaining ingredients from the bowl over the meat, and allow to marinate for 4 hours or overnight.
|Ready for the 'fridge!|
5. When the meat is cooked, allow it to cool, then refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.
Char siu can be made ahead. It can be refrigerated 4 to 5 days, and it can be frozen for 1 month. Allow it to defrost before using.
I only had dark soy sauce so I used 6 tablespoons of that. I also used black pepper instead of white.
|This is what I used|
I handled the "cook for 30 minutes and baste and turn" part by setting two timers. One was for 30 minutes, the other for 5 minutes and when it went off, I turned the pork, which basted it at the same time, then reset the timer for 5 minutes. I did this five times.
I put the pork about 10 inches away from the broiler and that seemed to be just right. It cooked and even browned without burning. 30 minutes was all that was needed for the meat to be done.
Oh my. Yum! Yes, success!
The meat is flavorful -- I can taste the honey and the star anise (from the five-spice mix) and the hoisin/oyster contributions. I was worried it would be too salty but that was not a problem. The marinade is rich and deep with a variety of flavors which go well with the pork. I managed to get the meat thoroughly cooked (no longer pink in the middle) but not dry.
I look forward to using it in the bau recipe. Note that the bau requires 3/4 cup of the roast pork and we started with a 4 1/2 pound chunk, so there is plenty to snack on, put in other dishes, and to freeze.
Come back tomorrow for the next step: The Filling!