Sweet and Sticky Soy Pork Bites

Sweet and Sticky Soy Pork Bites

  • Servings: 2 servings
  • Difficulty: easy to medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 pork tenderloin, cut in 1″ pieces
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, shredded
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chilli oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the pork tenderloin pieces, and sauté until they have been browned. Set aside. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients and add to the pan. Cook for approximately 4 minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce. Add the pork back to the pan, and stir, allowing the sauce to reduce further and stick to the pork pieces. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat and serve.

And now for the details…

Into day four of my 14 day quarantine challenge. And pretty much all the ingredients for this recipe came from my fridge/freezer and pantry, except the green onions I used on top for garnish.

Something I have come to be very grateful about during this quarantine is that I had built up a decent stock of supplies in my pantry, fridge, and freezer, and have been able to make use these of during this time.

As far was what are “necessities” and what to have readily available, it will depend so much on what you like to cook normally, how often you cook (i.e. how quickly the different items will be used up), and how much space you have available. There are plenty of articles out there the will give you plenty of ideas and inspiration on the essentials; I would say read through some of these and find what works for you. Keep track of what you tend to use over and over again, and make sure you stock up on those items!

Let’s get to cooking..

We start with cooking the pork tenderloin pieces. Dry them on some paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pan on medium-high heat.

Cook the pork pieces until they have just browned . They will be slightly undercooked, and that’s a-ok, since we will be adding them back to the heat in a little while. For now, remove them to a plate or dish and set aside.

Whisk together the other ingredients, and add them to the already hot pan. Allow the sauce to come to a boil and continue cooking for another four minutes or so, it will reduce and thicken.

Next, add the pork pieces back into the sauce and stir so the pieces are fully coated with the sauce, continue to stir and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the pork pieces are fully cooked and the sauce has reduced and is sticking to all pieces of pork.

Transfer the meat and sauce to a serving dish. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and green onions for garnish. Serve and enjoy!

Happy eating.

Instant Pot Tonkotsu Ramen

Instant Pot Ramen

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 pork trotters, split
  • 2 chicken backs
  • 2 leeks, whites only, cut into chunks
  • 2 shallots, cut into chunks
  • 3″ piece of ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 baby king oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 600g pork belly, rolled and tied tightly
  • 4 eggs, soft boiled
  • 400g package fresh ramen noodles
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 4 baby bok choy, leaves separated
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 eggs, soft boiled
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsps mirin

Directions

Place pig trotters and chicken backs in pot of boiling water, reduce temperature to simmer. Simmer for a minimum of 10 minutes, skimming off foam as it cooks. Remove trotters and backs, set aside, discard liquid. Pick out any dark or bloody bits from trotters and backs. Place trotters, backs, leeks, shallots, ginger, mushrooms, and pot belly in instant pot. Close pot and cook on “soup/broth” setting for 2.5 hours. Place soy sauce, mirin and 4 Tbsps water in ziplock bag, place eggs in bag, and place in refrigerator, turn occasionally (can be done night before). After 2.5 hours, release pressure and open. Remove belly, wrap tightly in cling film wrap and place in refrigerator. Close back up, set for another 60 minutes. Once done, release pressure, then strain broth and throw out solids. In pot, boil water. Using a small mesh strainer, cook ramen in water until done, remove and strain, and place in bowls. Using same mesh strainer, cook bok choy leaves for 30-60 seconds, strain. Take pork belly from refrigerator, remove cling film and slice thinly. Arrange pork belly, bok choy, corn and green onions in bowl over ramen noodles. Ladle hot broth over other ingredients, top with halved eggs and serve.

And now for the details…

Ramen. Delicious, delicious ramen. Until about a decade ago, I had no idea what real ramen was or could be. Before that, my brain associated the word ramen with Mr. Noodles or Ichiban, and I had no idea that there was so much more that ramen had to offer than instant noodles.

Since then, I have sought out ramen wherever I may roam. My favourite that I have tried so far is from the chain Tenkaippin in Japan. We made return trips to the same restaurant in Kyoto, several years ago. The broth is super flavourful, thick and rich. I have dreams about it even still. This recipe… is not that soup unfortunately. But, it is a nice rich broth that is pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. Cooking for an extended period of time in the Instant Pot is allowing the collagen to release from trotters and chicken backs, providing a thick mouth feel.

Let’s get started. We will start by “cleaning” the pig trotters and chicken backs. Bring a pot to a rolling boil and add the trotters and backs. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes, skimming off any gunky foam off the top. Once that’s done, dump the liquid. Using a fork, knife, or chopstick, we are going to pick at the trotters and back, removing any darkened bits or pieces that obviously have blood. We are doing this to clean out any bloody bits so we have a nice clear broth, rather than a skanky, cloudy, dark broth.

That icky looking foam is what you skim off and dispose of…

Once cleaned, place the trotters and backs in your instant pot. Stack in the leeks, shallots, ginger, and mushrooms. We are also going to roll the pork belly pieces and tie them tight with butchers twine, and place that in the pot with everything else.

Fill the pot with water up to the “MAX” line, and then close the pot, ensuring it is in the “Sealing” position and set for 2.5 hours on the “Soup/Broth” setting.

While the broth is cooking, we’ll set the eggs to marinating. We are making ajitsuke tamago, or seasoned eggs, to add to the ramen later. Mix the soy sauce, mirin, and 4 tablespoons of water in a ziplock bag, and then place your soft boiled eggs inside (need a refresher on how to soft boil an egg? Directions are included in this recipe). Close the ziplock up tight so as little air as possible is left inside, and then place in the fridge. Turn them around after an hour or two so they marinate evenly on all sides.

After 2.5 hours of cooking, release the pressure from the pot, and open ‘er up. Remove the pork belly, then close the pot back up, including resetting to “Sealing” position and set the pot back to “Soup/Broth” setting and cook again for 60 minutes. Wrap the pork belly tightly in cling wrap, and place in the refrigerator. The pork belly is more than cooked by now, and chilling the belly will allow us to cut it nice and thin to place in the bowl later.

Once the broth is done, strain it into a container, and discard any solids. I like using cheese cloth to help with the straining to get rid of any small, gritty bits.

Time to get everything ready. Boil water in a pot, and place the ramen noodles in a wire mesh strainer. Dip the strainer into the pot to cook the noodles, and when done, drain the noodles and place in the bottom of a large bowl.

Using the same strainer and boiling water, cook the bok choy until the leave just turn vibrant green. Place the boy choy, green onions, and corn into the bowl. Remove the pork belly from the fridge, and take out of the cling wrap. Slice the pork belly thinly and place in the ramen bowl.

Finish the soup off by taking the eggs out of the marinating liquid, cutting in half, and placing in the bowl. Ladle the still-hot broth over the soup contents, and serve immediately. Enjoy immediately!

Happy eating.

Pork Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)

Kimchi Jjigae

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 700g (1.5 lbs) pork belly, cut in slices
  • 300g (2/3 lbs) kimchi, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, shredded
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce (dark)
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 Tbsp gochujang
  • 3 cups chicken or pork broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch green onion, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 package shimeji mushrooms, trimmed
  • 1/2 pkg (170g) medium tofu, sliced
  • butter

Directions

Sauté the pork on medium-high heat until browned. Add the chopped kimchi, reserving the kimchi liquid, and stir regularly until kimchi is heated fully. Add the water and broth. Add the soy sauce, mirin, gochujang, and kimchi liquid. Stir and cook until the stew starts to simmer. Stir in the shredded garlic. Add the mushroom and the green onions, stirring to mix. Lay the tofu across the top of the stew, spooning some of the stew over the tofu to coat. Cover the soup and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the mushrooms and tofu are cooked through. Spoon the stew into bowls and drop about 1 tsp of butter on the top of each bowl. Serve with a bowl of white rice.

And now for the details…

I know what you must be thinking… ummm… Emily, I didn’t realize you were Korean…? No, no I am not. And what do I know about authentic Korean cooking? Not much at all, except that what Korean food I have eaten is delicious and I will do what I can to recreate it. Particularly this stew. This stew was love at first bite when I tried it at Ogam Chicken. It has all the things you could hope for in a stew. The flavour is a mouth-watering combination of salty, umami-rich, spicy, and tangy. With the little chunks of pork, kimchi, and tofu, this stew is also quite hearty. Pair it with a bowl of white rice and it is pure magic.

Eating kimchi jjigae in restaurants, you often get it served in a hot stone bowl called a dolsot. I do have a dolsot that I received as a gift. But alas, I still have not used it, as it does not work so well (i.e. at all) on an induction stove. I will need to get myself a hot plate to resolve this issue! Until then, a heavy bottomed pot will need to do the job.

Cooking with new ingredients is always both scary and exciting. There were a number of ingredients in this recipe that I had never used for cooking until I made this stew the first time.

Gochujang, which is a chilli paste, was a brand new ingredient for me the first time I made jjigae. I find it more earthy than spicy, although it definitely does provide some heat. It’s a deep, rich red and has an almost smoky yet sweet quality to it that really deepens the flavour of the dish.

Kimchi itself was something I had eaten on a number occasions, but had never cooked with at home. My favourite is baechu kimchi, which is made from the whole Napa cabbage. Luckily, it is usually the easiest to find in stores as well. Kimchi can be quite different brand-to-brand, and the store I get my ingredients from also does some fresh house-made kimchi as well. They will vary in the level of tartness, saltiness, and spiciness, which will change the way the stew ultimately tastes. Play around with the different kinds to find one you enjoy.

Let’s get to cooking.

Start by preparing your ingredients. Cut the green onions into 1″ pieces and set them aside. Take the kimchi out of its liquid, allowing most of the liquid to drain back into its container (set the liquid aside, we will be using that!), and chop the kimchi roughly to get some bite-sized pieced. Set the kimchi aside. Trim the mushrooms and set them aside. I use shimeji mushrooms because I enjoy them so much, but if you prefer white or brown button mushrooms, simply cut them into quarters or halves, depending on the size of the mushrooms (cut them into 1/8th’s if they are really big). Slice the tofu into 5-6mm (~1/4″) slices and set aside. Lastly, cut the pork belly into small, bite-sized slices.

We start by cooking the pork belly. Many recipes will call to add the pork belly to the broth once it is prepared, but I like cooking the pork first, getting a nice build up of the pork fat as it renders, and caramelizing the meat slightly. Add the pork belly to your pot with the heat set at medium-high. Sauté until the meat has cooked through almost completely and has started to brown. Stir this regularly, as I find the pork belly will try to stick to the bottom of the pot. If there is an large amount of fat pooling in the bottom of the pot, drain some, but keep the majority of the fat in the pot.

Once the pork belly is cooked through, add the kimchi to the pot, stirring regularly until any liquid that remained with the kimchi has cooked off and the kimchi is heated all the way through.

Next we start to add our liquid. Add the broth and the water, stirring while paying particular attention to the bottom of the pot to help stir in any of the caramelized pork that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Then, add the soy sauce, mirin and gochujang. Add a tablespoon or two of the kimchi liquid into the pot and allow everything to heat up until the stew starts to simmer.

Taste test the broth at this point to see if it is meeting your taste preference. Add more kimchi liquid if you want to increase the spiciness, saltiness and tartness of the broth. Now is also the point when you will add the shredded garlic to the stew. Lower the temperature to about medium or medium-low.

Next, add your mushrooms and green onions, and stir them into the broth. Then lay the tofu across the top, and spoon some of the broth over the tofu to coat it. I forgot to buy tofu the first time I made this for photos, so please excuse the, er, temporary costume (i.e. pot) change in this next photo.

Cover the pot an allow the stew to… well… stew… for about 8-10 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the tofu is heated through completely and everything is a nice, bubbly container of deliciousness.

Finally, we eat. Spoon the stew out into bowls, top with about 1 tsp of butter per bowl, and serve on its own or with a small bowl of cooked white rice.

Happy eating.