Sunday, November 25, 2012

Asian Braised Pork

Submitted by Michelle
After the bounty of Thanksgiving, I always enjoy a meal that is opposite in flavor.  Usually I opt for Italian food; something involving spicy sausage and a hearty red sauce.  This year, upon the recommendation of my friend Eileen, I decided to try an Asian dish.  I don't often cook Asian foods. They tend to require lots of ingredients, many of which I do not have in my pantry.  However, Eileen raved about the dish so much that I had to give it a try.  

The recipe comes from Anne Burrell of Food TV fame.  She has worked with Mario Batali, one of my favs, so I felt confident about the recipe.  The recipe involves pork shoulder, which is an inexpensive cut of meat.  Always nice to have a recipe that is easy on the budget.  The pork is braised in a delicious brown sauce consisting of these all-stars:
Chicken broth, fresh orange rind and juice,  rice vinegar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sambal oelek (red chili paste), fresh ginger, garlic, and star anise.
Star anise is a licorice flavored spice that is essential to the sauce.  Even if you don't like licorice, you MUST include the star anise.  It is relatively mild and you will like it.  Trust me.  You can find it in most grocery stores with all the other spices.
I just noticed that the recipe says to cut the pork shoulder into 4 or 5 pieces and then brown on all sides.  (Somebody didn't read the directions very well when she made it.) Even though the pork was cooked whole, it still turned out well.
Once the meat is browned, the braising liquid comes together quite easily.  The meat is added back to the liquid and cooked for 2 hours in the oven.  
When the meat is cooked and falling apart, it is removed and the braising liquid is the reduced down to a thick, syrupy sauce.  Mmmmm, good!  
I made a Pickled Cucumber and Daikon Salad to go with the meat, also courtesy of Anne Burrell.
Serving everything atop a bed of Jasmine rice was Eileen's idea.  The entire meal was delectable and entirely worth all the chopping and grating.  In general, I find that cooking Asian food at home isn't very hard, it just requires a lot of prep work. 

You can view the recipe for the pork here and the salad here.  

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