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An inadequacy of cookbooks

I had thought I owned quite a decent range of cookbooks these days, but today, they have failed me. As far as I can tell, i do not have single cookbook which suggests ways to cook pork belly. As I kept flipping through book after book, I eventually recalled that pork belly is nigh impossible to find in the US. None of my NA cookbooks had recipes, but I thought surely, surely, the British ones will. But no.

I am not lacking in ways to cook the meat: various brochures from Olive and the packaging of the meat itself offer up suggestions. There's always the whole wide internet. Still, I am feeling as if my cookbook collection isn't quite up to snuff today.



Apr. 12th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
For most of my life I only heard of pork bellies as some sort of commodity sold in American financial markets, along with coffee, and orange juice.

I rarely go to my cookbook selection myself. For instance my favourite pork belly recipe was taught to me by my chinese mate Norman. He cooks it with light and dark soy sauce, sugar, ginger, star anis, carrots, chinese vinegar and chinese rice wine. It slow cooks for many hours.
Apr. 12th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
I have just enough cookbooks in my life that I feel I ought to use them when possible, especially when trying out a new (to me for cooking at home) meat cut. Obscure ingredients - such as my new treasure trove of Australian bush herbs and spices - I will forgive the books for not mentioning. Also, I am still exceedingly cautious when it comes to cooking meat and trying to get it right - neither undercooked nor over. I find it easier to freely experiment with non-meat, because the degree of cooking necessary for safe sampling is so much wider.

I have all those ingredients in the house.... Marinaded first, or just cooked in the liquid? If I start now, it can have up to four hours cooking before dinner. Perhaps I will be asking the internet after all.
Apr. 12th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
you can cook it in the liquid - and yes four hours is best :-)

I wonder if I typed up the recipe anywhere.
Apr. 12th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
Apr. 12th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
The first is very close to my recipe - except that I don't use garlic in it, and fry the pork first. I don't suppose it matters too much after simmering for three hours.

Of course you can replace the pak choi with whatever green vegetables you have to hand :-)
Apr. 12th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Certainly sounds like red-cooked pork (紅燒肉/hóng shāo ròu) to me. I blogged about this a while back (note the info on blanching).
Apr. 12th, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you for actually explaining the purpose of the initial blanching! I have seen it included as a step several times, without the recipe author bothering to say what the point of it was.
Apr. 12th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! It's a very useful technique once you know what it's for.
Apr. 12th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
It is very similar to red cooked pork - but I note from your article that there are many variations. When I do it you could call it "black cook pork"

I'm watching that video you linked to

A *lot* less soy sauce than my version. I can't see all his ingredients in the video... But the red colour looks far more apetising than mine :-)
Apr. 12th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
Did you look at the Appetite For China post I linked to? I think the photo there is the most beautiful pork I've ever seen.

I think I prefer it without too much soy sauce, but I'm sure your version is good too!
Apr. 12th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
This, re: commodities. I suspect the pathological fear of fat in Americans is part of the reason for the complete absence of recipes in your average American cookbook.

It's SO hard to find pork belly here. Graham's trip to our local GIANT Asian grocery proved unsuccessful and the Korean H-Mart about fifteen minutes' drive north of us only has strips of pork belly, which is definitely not the same as a full pork belly roast (although we made do).

owlfish, we love this recipe. I know you've got lots of Internet out there, but I thought I'd pass on our personal recommendation for reference!
Apr. 12th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
Clearly I will need to cook pork belly once a week for the next several in order to try all of these! Thank you for the recommendation.

Thank you for backing up rumor with experience, in terms of the availability of pork belly in the US.
Apr. 12th, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
I'm going to second H, though the availability of pork belly roast here (Austin area) is perhaps a few percentage points better, due to the increasing Korean and Vietnamese/Hmong populations.

Generally, an Asian grocery (or Mexican-- there's a chain in TX called Fiesta that caters more to Mexican and South American needs) is the place to go for at least a few of the more truly obscure meat cuts.
Apr. 13th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
Mmmm, pork belly. I used to be able to get a big slab from Asda for a fiver...

The other pork belly recipe we tried was this one from The F Word, which was similarly delicious. I used to have the original recipe off the website, but I appear to have lost it somewhere along the line. I'm sure you can find it online if this version doesn't do the job.
Apr. 12th, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC)
Oddly, this is almost exactly what I am currently doing with my pigs' cheeks. (Actually it's not that odd: a classic red braise, except that I have added in chillies and not used vinegar [because it would cut the heat] or rice wine [because, bizarrely, I appear to have none].)