Saturday, April 3, 2010

Get some pork on your fork

Doc Y here. I do a fair amount of weekend roasts because they're cheap, they're simple, and let's face it, the weather in the Deep South of NZ is usually conducive to it. The folks and bro are over here at the moment and I have a big leg of pork to do today, but the standard issue roast pork/gravy/apple sauce/roast veg combo isn't really doing it for me. Even crackling isn't selling it to me, even though once a man is tired of crackling, he is tired of life. So I'm going to have a stab at doing it Chinese style. Never done it before. Little idea how. It's another train wreck in slow motion from our series (if a series of one previous entry counts as a series) where Dr Yobbo liveblogs the assembly of dishes he has no idea how to make and everyone ducks and hides from the flying shrapnel.

This is a mashup of a bunch of Chinese roast pork dishes on the Magical InterGoogle; the authentic Cantonese dish is siew yuk (which sounds like a three year old's response to boiled sprouts) and is usually made with nice lardy pork belly. Here I'm also lacking a few other authenticators like rice vinegar and red fermented bean curd - your local Asian supermarket or the international randomness aisle of Woolies should see you right if you want to go proper legit like. I'm just going with the traditional Macgyver School Of Cookery approach where we bodge it together from whatever stuff is in the cupboard.

Leg thereof, a bit over 2.3kg. Around 6 grownups to feed, less one conscientious objector - it's Jesus-On-A-Stick Day after all. As such I've managed to annoy the Catholics, the Jews and even (given that this isn't particularly halal) the Islamabads with this dish, so if you have any friends with imaginary friends to cook for today, I might be giving this one a swerve.

Smashing together a marinade around midmorning - just in the baking dish the pork will eventually roast in, for want of a better location. It'll rest in the fridge most of the day. These are large volumes because it's a large slab of oink, reduce proportionally for smaller cuts.

3/4 cup soy sauce - half dark and normal, since that's what I had
1/3 cup honey
2/3 cup hoi sin sauce
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
2/3 cup dry sherry (here subbing for the rice vinegar, should result in a more caramelized flavour)
1 tbsp crushed garlic (say 3-4 cloves)
2 tsp crushed ginger
1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder

Whisk it all up and drown the bastard. Chuck in the fridge, turning every hour or two.

Have a coffee while you're waiting.

While that's marinading I'll tell you about a recipe I bashed together with help from the old man the other day. By help I mean... well, we had plans to make a big lasagne and he said he was bringing over some Italian sausage to use for the meat. What he brought over was Italian flavoured supermarket sausages. Hmmm.

Worked, though. Helps that NZ supermarket mystery bags are actually pretty bloody good (as they'd want to be at $10 a kg or more.) The Italian ones are mostly beef (ish) with lots of garlic, chilli and spice in them. Grilled them for a little while just to firm them up enough to dice finely, then threw them in the electric wok with some finely diced onion, zucchini (bit of random greenery for fibre) and portabello mushrooms. Bit of mince to bolster the snaggage. Set all that aside, reduced some canned tomatoes with some pasta sauce and half a cup each of leftover cab sauv and pinot noir, reintroduced the goods, bit more chilli and garlic, chopped capsicum and fresh herbs as late as I could get away with, then once that was more solid than liquid, layered out a lasagne using a commercial bechamel (you can make your own if you want to waste your time pointlessly), Barilla lasagne sheets and grated cheddar/mozzarella, with a bit of grated parmesan to crisp up the lid.

Bloody noice.

I'll be back to finish the Chinese roast pork story later today or tomorrow, but til then - The Doctor is OUT.


Howzit. Dr Yobbo here, taking up the story from where we left off yesterday.

So, get your big slab of pork out. Of the fridge. Drain off the marinade, keep it for basting purposes. Get the oven preheating - you'll need to keep the roast temp down a little to account for the burnable sugars in the marinade, it'll inevitably blacken a bit but if you shove it in at 180 it'll look like the BBQ snag which fell into the campfire and was forgotten until sunrise. 165-170 (Celsius) should do it, figure 40 mins per half kilo at that temp, basting regularly with the residual marinade. You can reduce it down into a glaze for serving if you want to.

Vegies to go with? I went with red kumara, which I understand isn't as common in Australia as it is over here (or as is the more prevalent orange varieties.) This has a deep brown-red-magenta skin and a creamy yellow flesh, often with purple vein structures through it. It's a little less sweet and starchy as the orange varieties, and tends to be cheaper as well. Given that the pork locked us in to a lower roast temp than maybe you'd want, I went for fairly large bits, basically just halving them. Gave them a bit of a slosh-around in some oil with paprika and salt - more typically I'd go for olive oil, garlic, rosemary etc but didn't figure that'd work with the Asian elements of the pork - and in for about an hour or so. That, and some nice broccoli to offer a bit of greenery.

Verdict: Went well. If I was to do it again I'd probably roast it at lower temp for longer - outer edges were quite dry, yet not entirely cooked at the bone - and add vinegar to the marinade to aid penetration and bitter-up some of that residual sweetness. That said, there were no complaints. Put it this way - even the conscientious objector decided to forget it was Good Friday for the purposes of this lot. Mother Focaccia - food worth going to hell for.

The Doctor is OUT.


  1. Both look bloody good - the lasagne even made my stomach rumble!

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  4. Actually really dug the snag idea, great way to get a lot of flavour in quickly and easily. I like using the fresh pasta, but in lasagne it's not that much different.

    Lasagne is just a win all round though, especially in a cold climate. I like a bit of cayenne on the top with the Parmesan for that bit of extra warmth when it's cold.

  5. Yeah, I was surprised the New World snags cut it, but they had enough oil in them that it meant not having to add too much extra, could effectively stirfry-soften the vegies in the sausage juices and rendered fat. Probly why they took on so much flavour. You could use decent Italian sausage of course, just as you could make your own bechamel or use fresh pasta - but sometimes keeping it basic isn't a bad idea, particularly with multifactorial dishes like this, and this at least proves you can do good work with pretty stock-standard ingredients and a fairly non-DIY attitude.

  6. Wonder how that would go with using those tasty little chorizzo fuckers.
    The butcher up at Eastgate does great Itie snags.
    Choice eh bro?
    Like your take on the roast pork. Should turn out yummy. You'll need to open up some more of those reds for the gutzing sesh.

  7. Yeah chorizo would go brilliant in that lasagne but you wouldn't want to use too much. Couldn't afford to anyway, usually costs more than gold.

  8. Looks AWSM, sounds it too. Have VAGUELY heard of the kumara, never seen or tasted it though. Do you use that as a potato substitute?

  9. Kumara is sweet potato, basically. A few varietal differences but the orange kumara is the sweet potato you buy in Australian supermarkets. Less starchy and sweeter than potato, but lower GI.

  10. Looks good, getting time for some roasts.

  11. Awesome!! We went with the flat lamb on the barbie on Sunday night - made a great feed. JB makes a pretty good roast pork from recollection he puts a lot of time and effort into the crackling...

    I make a great pasta sauce using italian suasages and fresh fennel - make it like a spag bolognaise - use the 'mystery bags' as the mince and use fennell instead of onions - excellent meal.