Back to to the Far East and a new recipe that evolved as I was driving back from Casey Fields farm Shop! This one is most definitely my own and came about as I was looking for a different spin on braised Pork Cheeks, read on to find out about a new addition to my repertoire.The last time I cooked Pork Cheeks I prepared Carrilleras Estofadas, a Spanish Braised dish, rich with Red Wine, Beef Stock, Tomatoes and Carrots, ideal for Autumn and Winter, but not necessarily a Spring or Summer Dish. Wanting to develop something lighter, I looked to the Far East for further inspiration and thought about what goes with Pork…………CIDER!
For this little beauty you will need the following ingredients, as with the last couple of recipes, you will need to adjust some of the flavours by taste, to get the right balance.
Cider braised pork cheeks Vietnamese Style (for 2 people)
- 4-6 Pork Cheeks
- 2 Inch length of Galangal, sliced
- 1 Lemongrass stalk, bashed with a rolling pin and cut in half widthways
- 1 Tbls Coriander Seeds
- 2 Cloves Garlic chopped roughly
- 3 Kaffir Lime leaves
- 2 Red Thai Chillis (Leave Whole)
- 1 Green Thai Chilli (Leave Whole)
- 3 – 4 Shallots, roughly chopped
- 4 Star Anise
- 1 Tbls Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tbls Nam Pla (Fish Sauce)
- 1 Tbls Light Soy Sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbls Palm Sugar
- 500 ml Chicken Stock
- 300 ml Tutts Clump Special Reserve Cider (if you can’t get Tutts Clump, then a DECENT dry – medium cider)
- 2 Servings Plain White Rice
- 1 Bunch Coriander
- 2 Pak Choi (quartered)
- 1 Tbls Sesame Seeds
- 8 – 10 Drops Sesame Oil
- Plain Flour, Sea Salt & Pepper to Coat Cheeks/Season
- Cornflour/Water (Slurry)
The first step is to put some flour and liberal amounts of Maldon Sea Salt and Pepper in a dish, and coat your Pork Cheeks, then fry them off in some Ground Nut or Vegetable Oil until brown and sealed, set aside on a plate whilst you make the braising liquor. Set your oven to 140 deg (fan) 160 deg (convection) next, this baby is going to slow cook for at least 2 1/2 hours.
Put some Oil into a Dutch Oven or suitable casserole and gentle fry the Shallots, Galangal, Chillis, Garlic, Star Anise, Lemongrass and Coriander Seed until the aromas start filling the kitchen, then place the Pork Cheeks on top, and add the Chicken Stock, Cider, Rice Wine Vinegar, Nam Pla, Palm Sugar and Kaffir Lime Leaves and gentle stir to dissolve the Palm Sugar. You then need to make a CARTOUCHE, a scrunched up piece of greaseproof paper that you put on top of the meat/liquor pressing down gently so it touches the surface of the liquid, acting like a close fitting lid. Put the lid on top and place into the oven and set the timer for 2 1/2 hours.
Fingers crossed, when the timer pings, you should have something that looks like the above, the brown line around the surface of the liquid is where the cartouche was sitting during the cooking process. Remove the Pork Cheeks gently from the liquor, they should be very tender and could fall apart, put them in a dish, cover with foil and put back into the oven, turning the temperature down to under 100 degs, you just want to keep them warm. Strain the liquor into a saucepan and put onto a high heat to reduce for 5 minutes, in the meantime make a Slurry from 50/50 Corn Flour and Water about 2 Tsps worth and add, stirring continuously until the liquor starts to thicken, it should stick to the back of a spoon.
Turn the temperature down to low, we are nearly ready to finish the dish. For speed, I used quick cook Rice, which only takes 90 seconds in the Microwave (Gasp, oh no, surely not….Its quick!). The Pork Cheeks are to be served with Plain Rice, that has chopped Coriander mixed through it, and Pak Choy, with Sesame Seeds & Sesame Oil, really easy to do.
Take a frying pan with a lid, add some Oil on a medium heat and put in your Sesame Seeds to cook for 30 seconds, add the Pak Choy which has been quartered, add a little water to create some steam and put the lid on quickly. I cooked mine for about 2 minutes maximum, remove the lid and CAREFULLY add about 10 drops of Sesame Oil all over the Pak Choy and gentle turn to mix, that’s it done!
So all there is to do now is plate up, nappe the thickened sauce over the Pork Cheeks and serve with the Rice and Coriander mix. The great thing about this dish is the fact that it is very light, very fragrant, and does not have the fiery kick of other dishes I have recently posted, so suitable for younger mouths if you want to introduce them to unusual cuisines.
If you want it spicier, then rather than adding whole Thai Chillis, chop them up to release the heat, you can play with the balance of Sour, Bitter, Sweet, Spicy & Salty, the Ying and Yang of Vietnamese cuisine by adjusting the quantities of Fish Sauce, Soy & Rice Wine Vinegar, the Pak Choy adds a slightly bitter iron dimension and some crunchy texture if you don’t over cook it.
Hope you have a go, it was great fun thinking this one up, cooking it, and finding another way to enjoy my local Tutts Clump Cider.
Until next time,