I went a little bonkers this month with my Daring Kitchen challenge. We were told to Brave the Braise… and I pulled out all of my Le Creuset and went to town. I cooked three items… and Hubs and I had enough food to last us a week and a half!
I made Preserved Mustard Braised Pork Belly, Red-Braised Oxtails, Beef Short Ribs braised in Japanese Curry.
**Blog checking line: The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.**
The new stove was busy cooking all day long… I had eggs boiling in the back to make potato salad, my pork belly braising, the oxtails braising, the short ribs braising, and a piece of pork skin removed from the Momofuku Pork Belly Buns, boiling in the front to make the Momofuku Chicharones.
Growing up, my family always enjoyed eating 梅菜扣肉. It’s a traditional Hakka dish, and I used to order it at Tea Station when I lived in San Diego. I’ve made it a few times over the years, usually with pork shoulder to cut down on the amount of fat and grease but this time, I finally made it the traditional way… with pork belly. Complete with frying!
The preparation of the dish calls for the pork belly to be deep fried until dry and crispy, braised until pillowy and tender, and then steamed at the very end.
I used about 1 pound of pork belly, with skin on and shallow fried it for about 10-12 minutes on each side. While the pork belly was frying, I soaked the preserved mustard in warm water after rinsing it through multiple times to get any sand or grit out. I really like using the Hsin Tung Yang brand that can be found at Ranch 99 or Marina. They do a good job of preserving it and its sold pretty gritless! I browned some minced garlic in my dutch oven, added in the mustard, threw in a dash of good soy sauce, a cup of chicken sock, a good pour of rice wine, a sprinkling of anise seed. I nestled the freshly fried pork belly in the middle and let the Le Creuset braise for about 3 hours. Turned off the heat, and let the whole thing cool down. Pulled the pork belly out, sliced it up and placed it back into a dish with the mustard covering it and steamed it for about 30 minutes. It was definitely very work intensive but the results were amazing. I served it over some blanched baby bok choy that I quartered up.
I browned the oxtails (all 5 pounds of them!) in some hot oil making two batches. In the end, I tossed in the classic Chinese red-braising ingredients: ginger, garlic, green onions, crystal sugar, soy sauce and wine. Traditionally this dish also has preserved orange peels in there which I don’t like so I usually add in lime or lemon zest. In this case, it was lime zest since we just recently bought a case of Coronas. Hubs has been drinking his beers with funny looking lime wedges since I’ve zested most of them! The oxtails need to braise for a REALLY long time until the ligaments all fall apart and the fat renders out and the meat is falling off the bone tender. At the end, I tossed in some bean curd. We ate it up served over rice… and it was DELICIOUS!
I forgot to snap pictures of the curry before we ate it but I still have lots of leftovers in the fridge so the next time we eat leftovers, I’ll bust out my iPhone.