Friday, August 31, 2007

Hoisin-braised Pork, Mushrooms and Green Beans on Noodles

I got two cheques in the past two days and decided to celebrate ... by eating meat! Oooorrrrr, you could argue that it took me about two weeks to work up the courage to cook with meat. Who knows? Who cares? Look at the lovely chunks of pork in the picture!

Anyways, I was basically following this recipe that I found on Epicurious, modified, of course, according to what I had in my fridge : ) And according to the simple fact that I'm too lazy to do imperial/metric conversions. Epicurious calls it 'asian-style' but I've tagged this post as ' chinese' since it uses chinese ingredients

Basically the recipe involves rolling chunks of pork around in chinese 5-spice, adding salt and pepper, then tossing the pork in flour followed by frying the pork in a pot. Afterwards chicken stock, sliced mushrooms, chopped green onions, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and some ginger is added, and everything is brought to a boil. The pot is then left to simmer for approximately 50 minutes, until the pork is tender. Then green beans are added, and the pot simmers for 5 minutes covered, and then 5 minutes uncovered. Noodles are boiled during this time, drained, and then tossed with sesame oil. After all that is done, the noodles are topped with the hoisin pork, and then more chopped green onions. My substitutions were as follows: I didn't want to buy green onions, since I already had so much stuff I don't know how I'll use in my fridge, so I just used onions instead. I also had a bunch of zucchini and green chilies in my fridge, so I added a zucchini along with the green-beans, and put in one diced green chili (seeds removed of course) near the very end of the simmering process. The recipe also called for egg linguine, but I decided to go for some noodles I found in chinatown instead, since I was already there to get the chinese 5-spice[1]. The package says 'ho fun' on it, but it didn't seem quite like the ho fun I'm used to - maybe it isn't rice-based or something. Above is what the package looks like, and below is what the noodles looked like (after having tossed them with some sesame oil)
All in all, I thought it tasted pretty good! The sauce was sweet, rich and savoury, while the green beans were crunchy and refreshing. And the noodles were smooth and a little resistant, not too soft. I probably could have put in another green chili though, to kick it up another notch, but I was very satisfied with what I made. My only regret is that I didn't pull the fat off the pork first (I bought the pork already in chunks, the package said "for stew") since I had to pull it off while I was eating, and it's not like the sauce lacked for flavour.

As for how cooking it went - it all went pretty smoothly, except for the fact that I lack kitchen tools. First of all, I didn't have a bowl big enough to toss the meat with the spices and flour in...until I realized I that the inside of the rice-cooker would suffice. I also realized that those awesome ziplock tupperwares that mom gave me, the cylindrical ones, actually have both metric and imperial measurements on them! Yes! No more guessing what 350 ml is! I also had to borrow a pot from my suitemate, to boil the noodles in, since my pot was occupied with the pork. But in the end....Yay! I cooked with meat and nothing went wrong! And I managed to use up all of my zucchini! Although it doesn't look like I've even made a dent in my chilies...

[1] I also ended up buying tofu-fish (which I'll keep in the freezer for later) along with 1kg of Milo. Muahahahha. I could pretend I bought it for the iron-content, but one could also make an argument that I just like chocolate milk the way, chinatown is no better than koreatown with respect to buying green chilies. They only had the massive packs at the chinatown grocery storry too...

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