Thai Red Roast Pork

This is a succulent roast pork recipe that is so easy to make. As well as being delicious thinly sliced and accompanied with cucumbers as a centrepiece of a Thai meal, the leftovers are delicious in Thai Pork Noodle Soup. If you can’t be bothered making it, of course you can buy red roast pork readymade from your local Chinatown.

Prep time: 5 minutes Marinate: minimum 2 hours or overnight

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
1 kg of pork loin fillets
1/2 teaspoon red food colouring
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon each of fish sauce, hoisin sauce, light soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine or sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
2 star anise crushed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Coriander to garnish

Method

Put all ingredients except pork, water and red food colouring in a blender and blend until a smooth paste form

Mix red food colouring and water in steel or ceramic bowl

Add pork and using gloves massage food colouring, then marinade into meat, cover with plastic wrap

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Set aside in refigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight

Pre-heat oven to 230 degrees celcius

Put pork on roasting rack and keep marinade for basting

Cook pork for 10 minutes to create a “crust”, then lower heat to 180 degrees and baste regularly with marinade, cook for another 45-50 minutes at least. Check meat to ensure it is cooked – Be careful not to cook too long as it will dry out.

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Serve warm after resting for 10 minutes, then slicing. Goes well with sliced cucumber and Thai sauces or use in stir fries and soups.
Serves 4-6

Portuguese pork and clam stew with roasted capsicum sauce

We used to have this dish at the Petersham Portuguese Chicken Shop and Restaurant in Sydney before it burnt down in a terrible fire. I have never made it at home but thought I’d try it out for something a bit different. I did a bit of research on the Internet and checked a variety of recipes, some with and without the capsicum paste, before deciding on this version. The stew comes from the Alentejan region of Portugal and is usually served with fried potatoes but can be served with crusty bread or plain rice.

Marinating the pork in the milk and wine overnight tenderises the pork and gives it a lovely almost silky texture when cooked. The roasted capsicum paste can be made the day before as well if you want and adds a sweetness and a subtle spiciness that compliments the natural saltiness of the clams. The clams can be replaced by cockles but purging them by soaking in water is important to remove any grit.

So, please note the time required for marinating the pork and purging the clams below.

Marinating time: 8 hours or preferably overnight
Purge clams: 2 hours soaking in water to remove any grit
Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 1. 5 hours (including roasting capsicum)

Ingredients:
Roast Capsicum Sauce:
2 medium size red capsicums
8 cloves of garlic unpeeled

Pork Marinade
500g pork belly rind removed and cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 cup milk
1/2 cup wine
2 bay leaves
1/2 tspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 tspoon salt

Stew:
4 eschallots thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vermouth or dry sherry
1/2 cup capsicum paste
1-1.5 cup chicken stock or water
1 kg of clams soaked in water for 2 hours, washed and drained
1/2 bunch of thyme tied with kitchen string
500g marinated pork belly removed from marinade and patted dry on kitchen towel
chopped parsley to garnish

Method
Marinate pork belly pieces in milk, white wine, peppercorns, salt and bay leaves mixture overnight or at least 8 hours

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Marinate pork overnight

Cover clams with cold water and soak for 2 hours, changing water a few times to remove grit

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Drain clams after soaking for 2 hours in water

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celcius and roast whole capsicums and unpeeled garlic cloves sprayed with olive oil until capsicum blisters and starts to blacken, after 25 minutes raise heat to maximum to blacken capsicum if necessary, turn capsicums through roasting process. Remove from oven and place capsicums, not garlic, in a plastic bag and tie a knot in it. The heat from the capsicums will create a little steam bag and make the skins peel off easily when you take them out. Skin, reseed and chop the capsicum flesh. Peel and chop garlic. Blitz capsicum and garlic in a small food processor to create a paste.

Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Heat half the oil in an non-stick frying pan and fry pork pieces on high heat to brown on all sides. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

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Fry pork to brown

Heat other half of the oil in a heavy based casserole pot, then add eschallots and garlic and cook slowly until onions are translucent.

Add pork and 1/2 cup capsicum paste, vermouth or sherry to onion mixture in pot and place in oven, uncovered for 30 minutes.

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Stew pork in oven for 30 minutes uncovered

Add clams, stock and thyme. Cover pot and put back in oven for 15-20 minutes or until clams open.

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Add clams, stock and thyme

Remove thyme, garnish with parsley and serve with potatoes, rice or bread and a crisp, green salad.

Serves 4

Carrot cake and more at Zion Rd Hawker Centre, Singapore

We had heard about carrot cake from our son Nick who is currently living in Singapore. This is not carrot cake as we know it but a pancake made with diced daikon radish, flour, scallions/spring onion cooked in plain, sweet or savoury style and can be made into an omelette when fried with eggs.

Intrigued by this description we went to the Zion Road Hawker Centre which claims one of the best carrot cake stalls. Situated alongside the river at the end of Zion Road, in River Valley, this food centre is a smaller, spotlessly clean traditional eating venue with about 25 stalls. On Saturday morning when we visited the centre was filled with locals enjoying early lunch.

As with most hawker centres, each stall has a speciality which it is usually renowned amongst locals for. We headed directly to the Lau Goh carrot cake stall, quickly followed by the stall for Chicken Rice and Bak Kut Teh(pork rib broth). Friendly stall holders helped us with our orders and soon we were tucking in to lunch.

The Carrot Cake which is more like a radish scramble was a mixture of “white” without kecap manis, “dark” which has the sweetness of kecap manis and some scrambled with egg. Somehow the various textures and flavours combine to produce a delicious outcome which is worthy of it’s reputation.

Carrot cake Singapore style - radish, onion, flour steamed then fried and scrambled with eggs.
Carrot cake Singapore style – radish, onion, flour steamed then fried and scrambled with eggs.

I was surprised to see the chicken rice served with the sweet, salty kecap manis and slightly chilli sauce poured over the top of the sliced poached chicken and rice, garnished with spring onions and cucumber. The sauce had been absorbed by the rice and chicken and to my taste the flavours of each of the elements in this famous dish were not as distinct. Having said that the combined version was tasty and still ticked all the comfort food boxes. The clear, chicken broth accompanying heightened the flavours of the dish whilst also acting like a palate cleanser.

Zion Road Hawker Chicken rice with kecap manis sauce and spring onions
Zion Road Hawker Chicken rice with kecap manis sauce and spring onions

The Bak Kut Teh is another famous Singapore/Malay soup with each country boasting distinct versions. It is a slow cooked pork rib broth served with sides of rice, kecap manis with fresh chilli and green tea. This version had a mixture of herbs, whole cloves of garlic in their skins, and a seaweed textured green fern in it. Spicy with white peppercorns and with a hint of star anise with tender pork falling off the bone, this Bak Kut Teh was fresh and fulfilling. For added flavour we burst open the super soft garlic and mixed it through the broth!

Bak Kut Teh - Singapore  Pork rib soup with garlic and herbs
Bak Kut Teh – Singapore
Pork rib soup with garlic and herbs

All in all our visit to this authentic, local Hawker centre was fun, delicious and very, very cheap. Hanging out with local residents having their Saturday lunch in relatively peaceful surrounds was also a nice way to get an insight into the lives of real Singaporeans.

Balinese Pork

This is one of my partner Adrian’s favourite dishes to cook. The original recipe is from a great little book, The Food of Bali – authentic recipes from the Island of the Gods written by Heinz van Holzen and Lother Arsana. We bought it in Ubud on one of our regular visits during the years that we rented a little villa in Jalan Bisma. This Balinese pork recipe transports us back to the smells of the kitchens of Ubud with its traditional ingredients of sweet soy, lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chilli all slow cooked to imbue the pork with a sweet, spicy flavour. We have adjusted the original recipe to adding lemongrass and using spring onions rather than the traditional shallots which are more difficult to find.

Authentic recipes from the Island of the Gods by Heinz Van Holzen and Lother Arsana
Authentic recipes from the Island of the Gods by Heinz Van Holzen and Lother Arsana

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Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients
1kg diced pork
1/2 bunch of spring onions
6 cloves of garlic
10 cm of ginger peeled and sliced thinly lengthwise
1 stalk lemongrass cut into 4 and sliced lengthwise
5 tablespoons sweet thick soy sauce(kecap manis)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5 teaspoons black peppercorns crushed
3 tablespoons vegetable or cocnut oil
2.5 cups chicken stock
5 small red chillies left whole with stem cut off
2 large green chillies cut into long strips, seeds removed

Method
Cut white fleshy part of sping onions from bunch and remove roots and slice in half, keep green leafy part for garnish
Bruise ginger, garlic, lemongrass and sping onion bottoms in a mortar and pestle
Heat oil in large heavy based casserole pot
Add ginger, garlic, lemongrass and sping onions to oil and stir fry for 3 minutes over medium heat until slightly coloured
Add pork and continue to stir fry over high heat until pork is browned and sealed
Add sweet soy sauce and normal soy sauce, black peppercorns and red chilles and stir fry for 1 minute
Add chicken stock and bring to boil, then lower heat to a low flame and simmer mixture for approximately an hour checking regularly to ensure it isn’t sticking at the bottom
You want the end product to have very little sauce left and the meat should be tender, dark brown and shiny.
Chop green leafy part of spring onions and use to garnish pork
Serve with jasmine rice
Serves 2-3
Balinese Pork simmering in chicken stock with 2 types of soy sauce

Pulled pork with garlic, thyme and chilli

This is a delicious, healthy meal that is easy to prepare but needs slow cooking over 4.5-5 hours. Once it’s done it is great with salad and flatbreads with some tsatziki (yoghurt and cucumber) or Indian style roasted eggplant with yoghurt. Fresh mint is also good friends with this pork dish. Great for lunch leftovers.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 4.5-5 hours

Ingredients
750g-1kg piece pork neck
5 cloves garlic
Handful thyme leaves
2 sprigs rosemary
2 red chillies
1 lemon
4 bay leaves

Slow cooked pork for pulled pork
Slow cooked pork for pulled pork

Method
Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
Smash together garlic, thyme, chilli and rosemary with juice of half the lemon until a paste forms
Pierce pork all over with a knife to create small pockets
Rub marinade well into pork
Put pork with cut up pieces of remaining lemon half and bay leaves into an ovenproof dish and cover tightly with foil
Put in oven for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 140 degrees Celsius and roast for 4.5 hours
Remove foil, increase oven temperature back to 200 degrees and rlast until pork browns on the top
“Pull” pork into pieces with 2 forks and serve with flatbread,salad and accompaniments
Pulled pork
Pulled pork

Serves 3-4 with sides