Monday, February 17, 2014

I Cooked Chinese!

Although I do like eating Asian food, I’ve never been very successful in cooking it myself.  Between ingredients that are expensive but used few and far between and not having the proper equipment my attempts at Asian food have been limited and usually unsuccessful. 

A couple of weeks ago one of the food blogs on my blog roll, The Skinny Fork, posted a modified version of Char Siu.  Char siu is a barbequed pork dish that I have had several times while dining out at Chinese restaurants, but cooking it myself was never a thought in my mind.  The Skinny Fork’s pictures looked delish, and as I read her recipe I thought, “I think I could make this!”.  I had all unique ingredients in my cupboard except for the Chinese 5 Spice. 

Initially when I went shopping for what I did need, I regretted my decision to make it for company.  The Chinese 5 Spice alone was about $7.00 which irritates me so – even if I cooked with it all the time I wouldn’t get through the whole bottle before it went bad.  I threw it in my basket since my shopping list was based on serving this pork for dinner.  But how thrilled was I when I moseyed down the international aisle and found the 5 Spice for half the price. 

This char siu couldn’t have been easier.  I whipped up the marinade quickly and let the pork sit in it for a few hours. 

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The roasting of this dish was what I was most worried about.  I don’t have a roasting pan.  I’ve threatened to buy one on numerous occasions, but they’re so big.  Whenever I go looking for one I wonder where the heck I’m going to put it for the 362 days a year I won’t use it.  I did the same thing this past weekend so up until the minute I was ready to start roasting I didn’t really know how I would go about it.  The Skinny Fork modified the roasting pan bit with a metal rack, but I didn’t even have one of those.  So an hour before my guests arrived I was praying that my makeshift “roasting pan” of rolled foil, disposal loaf pans (with holes cut out), and Pyrex dishes would work.  I so wish I had a picture of my contraption because it was truly horrifying unbelievable.  However, I was so worried the pork loin was going to roll off into the water, I didn’t remember to take a shot of it.  Next time!

Anyhow, it worked!  The pork came out beautifully.  I left it to rest for a bit.  Always a bit worried about cutting into meat that I’ve cooked, I breathed a sigh of relief.  It was perfect – tender, juicy, and had the traditional char siu flavor.Snow Day 006 Snow Day 009 We enjoyed the meal with roasted broccoli and rice – one even went back for seconds. 

After all was said and done, there was still quite a bit left over.  That was fine as I’m always happy to have leftovers for school lunches.  Unfortunately, the reheated pork wasn’t so good – what meat is really!  But I had a huge bag of it, so decided to go Koji style and make char siu tacos with a broccoli slaw and ginger/garlic salsa. 

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I chopped up some ginger, garlic, scallions,  and cilantro, in my mini-chopper.  Then added some rice wine vinegar and Sriracha hot sauce.  After warming the tortillas, I layered the broccoli slaw, the pork and then the salsa.  I topped it with some extra cilantro and a squeeze of lime. 

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  1. If you click on the photos while you've a comment going you lose the lot. :-[

    That looks very good.

    Ohhhhh, I see now what you did. Smart lady !. Put the wet stuff in a bag with the meat. Darn good idea.
    Next time get the bits for the 5-spice separately, 10 year out, and buzz them in your chopper. The star anise is the only bit you wouldn't or couldn't use much.

    1. Yes, a great way to marinate. The bag kind of seals the juices to the meat on all sides, and if turning is necessary you just flip the bag over. So easy to clean up too.
      I had looked up what I'd have needed to make my own 5 spice and I did have most of it. But I always worry about screwing around with a recipe before I've tried. Since I couldn't picture what the 5 spice tasted like I didn't know if I could use any of the substitutes I read about or what would happen if I made my own. After making it I feel I could, but too late now! The bottle I have will last me forever! :)

  2. You are such a great cook! I love that you try new things. I literally laughed out loud imagining your roasting pan! I have one in my cabinet that someone gave me when I got married and I use it only one or two days a year. They are so huge : ).

    1. I don't think I have a cabinet in my kitchen that is big enough to hold a roasting pan. It would have to sit in the garage...collecting dust.
      I go in waves with the trying new things. I've been feeling in a rut with the cooking lately, so I've been trying some new things recently. I'm are I'll get back into a rut sometime soon. :)

    2. Mine live when not in use in the oven. If it won't fit in there it's absolutely no use to me. And if I'm using say a flat tray I move the big one to the floor.

    3. That's a nice pan. I looked at something similar at one of my local home stores a couple of weekends ago. Yah, the ice would work. Do you remove it every time you cook in the oven, or has it been ok say sitting on the bottom rack while you've got something cooking on the top? I'd forget it was in there while preheating. Since it's made for high temps I'm sure it'd be ok.

    4. Yeah that's what I mean by floor, as in floor of the oven. The trivet is the only annoying thing. But if ever you need to roast something up from the bottom of the tray use aluminium foil twists of veg like uncut up carrots. And when the first lot of carrots have turned to mush drop a few more uncooked ones in and put the halfcooked meat on top. And it doesn't make any darn difference if you preheat it. And I can guarantee you if you ever forget to put on gloves you would do it a second time e-v-e-r. This I know from a personal educational opportunity that I took advantage. Like the one lately on my new steak skillet when I grasped it. :-)

    5. Noticed a typo about "ice". I think that was supposed to be "oven". :)
      Ha, yah, I've done that a time or two as well. And isn't it amazing how it surprises me that it's hot. Duh

  3. For as much as I love experimenting in the kitchen (though I haven't been doing much of it lately), finding inexpensive "special" ingredients is a pain in the ass. Good for you for finding the 5 Spice at a decent price! Your pork looks fantastic! I think I would've enjoyed the tacos more than the original dish, lol! I have a weakness for ginger and cilantro. :-)

    1. I have found that Asian food is so very different than I normally cook that my experimenting with is has also been very limited.
      I, too, LOVE both those flavors.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks! Are you back to the BD site now? I haven't been to that one in awhile.