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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, February 18, 2005

Get some pork on your fork!

That heading is actually a line from a catchy TV advertising jingle when I was a child (also it made us schoolgirls giggle and snigger, because it sounded a bit dirty, you know!) I think it was when there was a lot of promotion for "Pork. The other white meat" during the 80s when the population were encouraged to turn away from red meat and embrace white...but pork was believed to be too fatty. Farmers started breeding leaner pork, which really didn't do much for them or their industry as leaner pork equals drier, flavourless pork. I never liked pork chops as a child, and only enjoyed roast pork for its oily crackling. So, I'm enjoying rediscovering pork and learning how to cook it so it doesn't dry out.
I firmly believe that pork doesn't have to be cooked well-done, as is so widely believed, in order to kill all the 'worms and germs' (!!). We live in a modern, industrialised, health-consious country, and it's been a while since pork was infested with worms. My mum totally disagrees with me on this point and won't consider pork cooked medium. But it tastes so much better when it hasn't been attacked by heat and turned into fibrous string.

I decided I wanted Asian style pork, perhaps coated with hoisin sauce and served with the bok choy we have in the fridge. Then I remembered Jill Dupleix had a recipe idea just like that in her 'Take Three' book, which I've raved about previously. I dicovered her pork was actually lamb, and I didn't have one or two of her ingredients but decided it'd work just as well with what I had.
I quickly marinated the pork chop and set the bok choy to lightly steam. When I added the pork chop to the smoking pan there was great hiss and sizzle, and the sugar in the marinade started caramelising and forming a gorgeous crust. I placed the chop on the steamed bok choy and drizzled some reserved marinade on top, then added some fresh coriander and chili.
Now I don't know where I got this idea from, but I then plopped a fried egg on top and drizzled it with some hoisin sauce. This really topped off the whole experience; the slight bitterness of the greens, with the sweet/salty pork and the soft egg yolk drizzling through made it taste wonderful; and it really was perfect. Just what I wanted, as I sat at the kitchen table, in singlet and sarong after a hot day, and good book in my other hand. Come to think of it, I often see dishes in Vietnamese restaurants which have pork chops sitting on broken rice, topped with a fried egg, so it seems I haven't created a new taste sensation at all!

I've included the original Jill Dupleix recipe below, but keep in mind that her recipes really are more meal ideas, and completely open to being altered and modified to what you have at hand. So, feel free to substitute and improvise, as I did!

Lamb, Hoisin and Greens
Sweet scorched lamp chops with the flavour of a Cantonese roast meats stall, served with crisp Chinese broccoli.

Main players:
8 or 12 well-trimmed (Frenched) lamb chops
3 Tbsp hoi sin sauce
1 Chinese broccoli (or bok choy)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sesame oil

Combine hoi sin, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, five-spice powder and salt and a large bowl and add the lamb chops. Leave to marinate for 1 hour, turning once or twice.(or 10 minutes if you're hungry and impatient)
Heat the grill or BBQ (or heavy frypan). Drain the chops and cook, turning once or twice. The outer meat will scorch as the sugars caramelise-which is good-but be wary of burning, and remove the chops while the lamb is still pink and tender inside.
Meanwhile, cook the washed, chopped greens in simmering, salted water for 2 minutes, or until they soften. Remove and drain in a colander.
Arrange a neat layer of stems on four warmed serving plates, and top with leaves. Drizzle the greens with sesame oil, lean 2 or 3 lamb chops against them and serve.



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