Monday, May 11, 2009

Why blokes should cook

Thanks heaps to Beeso for the invitation to contribute.

Anyway I've never really understood the mentality that girls should cook and guys shouldn't. Cooking's at heart an experimental science, and men, history tells us, make fairly decent scientists - whether because of the global patriarchal conspiracy keeping Tha Sistahood out of the lab-coated higher-ups, or just because we fullahs tend to be more into busting stuff up to see how it works, having a fiddle about to see if we can improve it, then hiding all the leftover broken bits under the couch and pretending we didn't break it in the first place.

And that's cooking (sort of) - the combining of stuff in some sort of quasi-random order until it starts tasting less rubbish than previously, as determined by the grown-ups involved. This was the general philosophy passed down to me by my old man, who took over the family kitchen after he'd packed in teaching. He married a second-gen Italian girl but after years of trial and error cooked better Italian than most of his in-laws, largely based on a plan of throwing unfeasible amounts of garlic and olive oil at any problem he came across. Following on from this, I have adopted, adapted and improved upon his methodology in my own way.

Tonight's recipe from the Australasian Yobbo's Weekly Test Kitchen: hoisin pork chops. Which go a little bit like this.

Pork loin or forequarter chops, 3-4, > half inch thick, keep the rind on (you're a man dammit.)
Marinade/glaze - combine the following in Some Sort Of Order. This is for you to figure out by your own volition, but ballpark proportions:
4 tbsp hoisin sauce (any brand of supermarket hoisin sauce but the Asian-sounding stuff's best)
2 tbsp plum sauce - if you don't have any, substitute something else fruity and sugary - even orange marmalade can work (tested this evening, worked surprisingly well)
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (brands as per hoisin comments above)
Splash of sherry - decent Spanish stuff if you can get it, domestic OK, just not Golden Gate Cooking Sherry as preferred by your seediest mate at high school parties back in the day. The sherry is there to add flavour and sweetness but also to help penetrate the meat (ooh err Matron.)
Splash of lime juice - unless you're Uamada - or soy sauce depending on whether you want it saltier or sweeter - or sesame oil or anything you fancy really
1 tsp ea of crushed ginger and garlic - out of a jar is fine
1-2 beers - for marinating the chef
  • Glaze the meat repeatedly with the marinade - that is get a brush and smear the stuff all over it. (Hence don't make it too watery or it won't stick.) If no brush just dole it on with a spoon and smear it over. Make sure you get that stuff all over the rind because what you want to do is crispify and reduce the rind - could even take a bit of the marinade, mix in some salt and put this direct on the marinade to get that crunchy pork crackling effect. Salt draws moisture out and will help 'reduce' the fat of the rind.

  • Preheat your grill. This can be anything from a BBQ grill to the grill in your oven, depending on what you have. If the latter, >200 deg Celsius preferable. Not Fahrenheit. Celsius.

  • Grill the bastard, checking semi-frequently to top up the glaze as it burns. You want it to burn, a bit anyway. It's full of sugar so it'll caramelise and blacken up nicely without burning the meat under it - this is a bit delicate ref. timing so don't bugger off and check the cricket score while this is going on, keep an eye on it and take the batteries out of the smoke alarms otherwise the bleeping will incite you to violence. Once the glaze is blackened, flip and repeat process for the other side. Don't over-do it obviously. Noone likes dried out, overcooked, nasty old pork. Well, maybe Hef's girlfriends.

  • Serve with Something Asian. Zhang Ziyi preferably. Mmmm. If not available at your local supermarket, steamed Asian greens, stirfried bok choy in oyster sauce, or even instant fried rice out of a packet will do if you can't be arsed with anything complicated.

  • Put the batteries back in the smoke alarms.

  • Eat.

  • Steal the rind off your girl's plate cos it's the best bit.

  • Let her take you to bed to reward you for being so fricken awesome etc.

To conclude on my original point, cooking combines all the things we as blokes pride ourselves on being good at. It's a creative process, it's experimental, it rewards ingenuity, bravery and inventiveness, it involves the burning of meat on a heat source, and it's a bloody good excuse for drinking beer. And besides, the ladies dig a good chef. And if, like Your Correspondent, you have a head like a smacked arse, you need all the assistance you can muster.

Baking, though... baking's for chicks. Definitely.

The Doctor is OUT.


  1. And the horse you rode in on pal!

  2. dunno about that
    if i could bake it would raise me from being just a great home cook to one of the gods

  3. We managed to engineer the twenty-something girl students in the lab into a competitive baking situation - they'd keep trying to outdo each other every week with bigger and better efforts - brilliant bit of subtle manipulation on behalf of someone or other who probably should be knighted.

  4. Dr Y. Its always been my theory that cooking is getting the ingredients, cutting them up if needs be, adding them together and heating them up in way or another. I've found that you generally only ever truly fuck up a dish once. If you follow a recipe you always get a result. Then its a simple question of practice and experimentation. That's the fun bit. "Wonder what would happen if I put bacon with these snow peas? Could only make it better." or, "those fuckin' carrots look a bit old. Maybe if I fed them some beer before cooking them. Mmmmm beer. Footy comes on in fifteen, better get a wriggle on. Oh yeah, the carrots. Beer soak then boil. Can always add bacon later."
    I'd guarantee that next time Lerm does a roast, it will be fine. Its pretty easy to rescue things before they go completely tits up. Have had similar pork rib things before, this one looks good.

  5. Nah baking is one of the earthier, deeply manly arts when done right. It's where your inner biochemist gets to come out to play, at least in a different way to brewing.