Friday, January 7, 2011
Chinese style pork short ribs
Chinese takeout is a good idea until you get halfway through it. That lip-smacking MSG-laden goodness suddenly turns into a cornstarch paved highway to bloatedville. Even though your eyes are now glazed with that syrupy sauce that was recently a pure delight, you still keep eating yourself deep into the pit of "that was a bad idea". Sadly that is Chinese food as most Americans know it, including myself. At some point I am going to feast on authentic Chinese cuisine but until then I have to fend for myself.
I like Top Chef. That is my confession. It is also the extent of my reality television watching. I like to see what the chefs come up with (both good and bad) and to witness the guest judges "in person". When you see that many cooks coming up with two dishes a night per week for X weeks, there is bound to be some inspiration in the mix. A recent winning dish was Chinese style pork belly, pickled daikon radish, and watermelon "air". I didn't really like the overall dish or the winner, but Chinese style pork has me head over heels.
I got no belly, but I has me some short ribs. They are both fatty pork chunks that need long cooking, so that means we are green light on this mission! The only other ingredients are soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and water. I have it all but hoisin sauce, but I know my local grocer carries a couple of varieties.
Enter main obstacle for recipe accuracy: hoisin sauce. I push my cart down the fancy food aisle looking for the Asian section (gotta love Maine) and then peruse my choices of hoisin. *sigh* Wheat in all. Wife Zube and wheat equals no fun. I like fun. Ok. Do I abandon my endeavour or keep on keeping on? Grr, I want my Chinese pork! I will make my own hoisin (or at least pretend to) and reap the rewards of slow-cooked porcine flesh!
So now I look up hoisin recipes on the internet, read a couple, and then completely ignore them. I'll just make some barbecue sauce and use some Asian ingredients (mainly Sriracha hot sauce)to make it Eastern. Should work out right? *quiet laughter in the background* Or maybe not. My Asian barbecue sauce was just downright weird. It didn't taste bad, just weird. Guess what? Didn't stop me...
I got the ol' short ribs browning in my trusty dutch oven while loving the sweet smell of pork and daydreaming of the end product. Once sufficiently browned I deglazed the pan with some chicken stock and poured in my soy sauce, imposter barbecue sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and water. Its looking pretty insipid despite the powerful flavors in the mix, but we charge on ahead irregardless.
I am going to take this short station break to point out, if you had missed it, the blatant tone of "hey this isn't quite right, but I am sure it will work out fine if I just close my eyes and keep on cooking like I got Chinese skillz". Nothing like foreshadowing eh? (<--- props to Honors English for that technique.)
Out comes the pot a few hours later and when I take the lid off I am pleasantly surprised. I have a nice darkly lacquered piece of pork staring up at me in a sufficiently thick sauce. Perhaps the close-your-eyes-and-cook-like-you-know-how approach worked?
We plated the pork up over garlic green beans and a rice/veggie combo. Drizzle some sauce, sit down, grab a fork and say, "Huh... kinda weird." Next time the main ingredient is hoisin sauce I am either going to find a gluten-free product or something else to cook. Zube's Asian Barbecue will not be going to market soon. Not bad, just weird.