Venturing into foreign territory

2013 (all 1.5 months of it) has seen new additions to our repertory — a lot more Asian.

This might seem surprising, but I’ve tended to shy away from trying to reproduce my mom’s cooking, and pretty much most Asian food in general (with the occasional one-offs in Thai curries), since it never quite measures up to my taste memories and is thus frustrating and sad. I learned to cook — really cook, not just sloppily pretend-stir-fry as I did in my college dorm kitchen — by making French and Italian dishes. But a recent visit from my parents, with a mom-cooked dinner, and the arrival of a few new very good cookbooks have helped us find the motivation and the ingredients.

The “Vietnamese” pork chops in the terrible phone snap above is just the latest in our experiments. In fact, we ate these just 10 minutes ago, and they were so good, they pushed me out of lazy silence here to write this. Alex combined the ingredient lists of a Bittman recipe and one from the new Vietnamese Street Food (which I have not yet otherwise put through its paces, but do think it’s quite good-looking), making a marinade of

9 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch ginger, minced
1 star anise, broken up
1 tsp ground black pepper (yes, 1 whole tsp! Bittman’s recommendation)
2 lime leaves, chiffonaded
juice of 1 lime
4 chiles de arbol, crushed up by hand
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1+ Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
Couple of glugs of vegetable oil

and putting these weirdly cut (did the butcher think this was lamb?) pork chops in the marinade for about an hour. He then heated a pan in the oven at 500F until smoking hot, then set the oven on broil. He shook the marinade off the cops and seared them in the hot pan for three minutes on one side and three more on the other, added half the marinade, dredged the chops in the marinade in the pan, then stuck them under the broiler for three minutes, dredged and flipped for another three minutes, and added the remainder of the marinade, and continued to flip and dredge at one-minute increments until the internal temperature reads 145F.

The book that really got me going is Every Grain of Rice, from the ever-reliable Fuchsia Dunlop. I’ve already made the Gong Bao chicken twice in the last month. Finally, the dishes I grew up on — tomato and eggs! — transcribed into readily executable recipes.

More, much more, soon.


1 Response to “Venturing into foreign territory”

  1. 1 In with the new, part 1 « Fat is flavor Trackback on February 19, 2013 at 2:41 am

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