This week I decided I wanted to try something a little more involved than a lot of what I’ve done lately. I’ve been working a lot of overtime in the past few weeks, and this week was the first time I decided to take my regularly scheduled days off (don’t worry though, I worked extra shifts on my other days to make up for it. I don’t want anyone thinking me lazy) so I actually had some time to do a little more preparation than usual.
I started with a large roast of pork loin. This is a really nice piece of meat you can usually pick up for relatively cheap. Seven or eight dollars will get you a few pounds, and it’s a very lean cut. I have a pretty standard practice when it comes to pork, and it always starts with a brine. In this case, I stuck pretty simple with some water mixed with salt and sugar, along with a mix of some dry spices, namely garlic and onion powder and some crushed red pepper. I cut the roast into four pieces and let it sit in this brine for 4 hours in the fridge. With that done, I drained off the brine, patted the meat dry with a paper towel, then seared it on all sides in a heavy skillet. (cast iron would be best here, but mine is still in storage, so a plain steel one will have to do)
Once the roast pieces are seared, I’ll rub on a coating of garlic chili paste and then wrap them in raw bacon strips and place in a crock pot. Add apple juice to almost cover the meat, place the lid on, and let the crock pot cook for 6hours on high.
Once the meat is in the crock pot, take several whole carrots. Clean them and peel them. We’re going to want to slice them very thin, like ribbons. You can use a knife if you’re incredibly confident in your knife skills, or you can use a mandolin if you’ve got a nice sharp one. I do not fit either of these qualifications however, so I’m just going to use my peeler to shred the ribbons. I won’t be able to quite get all of the carrots this way, but I find the leftover nubs make a nice snack anyhow. Put all your carrot ribbons in a large Tupperware container. In a small sauce pan, mix some honey, brown sugar, sriracha hot sauce, soy sauce, and a good heaping bit of minced ginger. Stir over low heat only long enough to combine everything then remove from the heat. Add cold apple cider vinegar, mix, then pour over your carrots and place the container in the fridge. We’ll stir this occasionally over the next few hours.
By wrapping the meat in bacon, we’re going to get a nice basting without needing to babysit our meat. The garlic chili paste is a really great flavor to add here, while it’s definitely heavy on the spice by itself, in this case the heat will get diffused throughout the dish.
Once the roast has cooked for six hours, we’ll pull it out of the crock pot along with all the liquid and place in the fridge for 6-8 hours. This will let it firm back up, the fats will solidify, and I’ll get some sleep. (heading out to see Rogue One during this time is also highly recommended)
When we’re ready to start cooking, we’ll begin with getting our veggies in place. Slice up some mushrooms, green onions, red and yellow peppers, napa cabbage. Then pull our meat out of the fridge. Drain all the liquid into a small sauce pot and place on medium high heat on a back burner. Stir occasionally and let it come to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and we’ll let it cook while we put everything else together.
Scrape off all the solidified fat from the meat and put it in a large wok along with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. Slice up your meat and set aside. Once the fat has liquefied, stir it a bit to mix up and wait for it to ripple. Toss in some minced garlic and ginger along with your sliced green onions. Stir for a bit till you start to smell your aromatics, then toss in your meat by handfuls. We’re wanting to let this get a little crispy, so don’t overcrowd it. Stir frequently. Once you’ve got your meat going, add the napa cabbage. Stir to combine everything then reduce the heat to low. In a separate pan, stir fry your peppers with some olive oil and sesame oil.
This can be served with rice or noodles. I went with maifun rice noodles, which you don’t see as much, and they’re super fast to cook. Just pour hot water over them and let sit for a few minutes and drain. I like the different texture they bring to the plate, and the bright white color contrasts well with the rest of the dish. Right before serving, take out some of your carrots, which should be nicely pickled by now and use them to top your pork. The crunchy sour and sweet flavor will also be a really nice contrast here.
I was really happy with this dish. It’s balancing a lot of different aspects and came together rather nicely. I think it’s a pretty solid weekend project for when you might want to try something a little special, and it’s certainly a nice change of pace.