Pulled Over

“No sir, you can’t just throw barbeque sauce onto some grey pork floss and call it pulled pork.”

We all have something to fight for, something grounded jn the depths of our memory that we treat in a do-or-die sort of way. That is, if you’re going to do it, you better do it right, or don’t even.

Most often our brain’s preference of these subjects is based on our upbringing, in my case, that would be my mother. A treat to imagine though, that my timid, loving, born-and-raised in Taiwan mother is actually a barbeque pulled pork enthusiast.

Thus, by default, I fall somewhat in that category too. Genetics, man.

But I think that gene is secretly inherent in any human being. Seriously, that moment when the pork fibers fell apart at the tip of my fork, the steam burst forth, and the dark amber fat cap unraveled to reveal the rusty pink hued, scallop textured flesh beneath…something instinctive resonated within me.

Epic.

Four ingredients is all you need,

so thank me for blowing your mind up, you’re welcome.

Finishing is better than starting.

Patience is better than pride.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

 

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You don’t need a smoker or anything fancy for this. All you need is time, and not even that much of it compared to some other methods you’ll find. One could certainly power through the entire recipe and have it on the table in 7 hours, otherwise you can chill it after shredding for up to 5 days, then finish with the last 2 hours of baking before serving, which thickens the sauce into a sticky, molasses-like glaze. The choice of fruit juice is arbitrary, but I like mango because it reduces into the richest glaze.

Ingredients for the pulled pork, serves 16:

8 lbs local pork shoulder, choose one that’s well marbled

3 tbsp kosher salt

1 bottle (400-425 ml) barbeque sauce ,use your favourite, but if don’t have one, get a darker one that’s more smoky than sweet

1 bottle (400-425 ml) mango juice (I’ve also succeeded with pomegranate, peach, and apple)

To make the pulled pork, remove any string from the pork if it’s in the form of a tied roast. Make a deep cut to butterfly the pork so it is about 3-4 inches thick throughout. Do not trim any of the fat.

Rub the pork all over with salt and place, fat side facing up, in a roasting pan. Squeeze the barbeque sauce over the pork without smearing – you want the sauce to form a cap and sit on top of the meat. Fill the barbeque sauce bottle with the juice and shake it to dissolve the bit of sauce remaining. Pour the mixture around the pork.

Seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil, overlapping a couple of sheets.

Bake at 295 degrees F for 5-5 1/2 hours, until the fat is rendered and meat shreds effortlessly. Shred the pork with two forks while it’s still hot in a separate large bowl and return it back to the pan of pork jus. Discard any visible lumps of fat.

Bake at 300 degrees F, loosely covered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until the sauce reduces into a thick glaze and the color intensifies.

For the coleslaw I did not want anything heavy or mayonnaise-y at all since the pork itself is rich enough. In fact, this method of making coleslaw is inspired by the Taiwanese pickling technique of first making a vinegar simple syrup, then pouring the hot syrup over the vegetables and letting it sit for three days. The result is something incredibly flavourful with a gutsy balance of acidity to cut through the pork’s fattiness just barely mellowed by a touch of mayonnaise.

Ingredients for the lime slaw:

100 ml rice vinegar

100 ml sugar

1 kg coleslaw blend (shredded green cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots)

1 lime, zest and juice

3 tbsp good quality mayonnaise

To make the lime slaw, dissolve the sugar with the vinegar in a small sauce pan. Pour over the coleslaw blend and mix thoroughly with the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill at least overnight, though it will be best three days later.

To assemble the sandwiches, just pile the warmed pork and cold slaw onto your favourite buns, I recommend a stronger-bodied bread, but really, anything goes. You can’t go wrong with pulled pork.

Enjoy! (And don’t forget the napkins!)

Frites with Benefits

Life is a tuber

slumbering. In woe

with worms and woodbugs

and warmth        just enough.

Life is a tuber     growing      fat.

Underground     blind   and  quiet

hard.                       Life is a tuber

humdrum,                                ho-hum.

Cut it                                                  open,

add some fire,

forget not to season –

life is  a

tuber.

It’s better to be a tuber which feeds the nations, than to be caviar which we can all do without.

Pride brings a person low,

But the lowly in spirit gain honour.

Proverbs 29: 23

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Ingredients for the goat cheese aioli –  goodbye chipotle aioli, no apologies:

100 g herb goat cheese (or use plain and add 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme)

2-3 tbsp hot water, as needed

3 tbsp good quality mayonnaise

few grinds freshly cracked black pepper

To make the goat cheese aioli, mash the goat cheese in a small bowl, adding hot water as necessary until creamy – you want it to be a frosting consistency. Stir in the mayonnise and black pepper, refrigerate until needed.

 Ingredients for the crispy sweet potato fries:

2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed under running water then wiped dry

2 tbsp corn starch

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp avocado or grape seed oil

To make the sweet potato fries, cut the sweet potatoes into thin sticks, about 1/3 inch or 1 cm in thickness and put them in a large mixing bowl. You can do this 2 hours in advance and let them dehydrate at room temperature – this will help them crisp up and caramelize better in the oven.

Once you’re ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F , with to racks spaced evenly (you really need to wander up the high end with the temperature for it to crisp up). Toss the dry sweet potato sticks with the corn starch and paprika to coat as evenly as possible. Adding corn starch when the sweet potatoes are still dry helps makes the coating very even and perfectly thin. Drizzle the oil over the fries and toss again to coat evenly, be patient and really try to make the oil go the mile.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and take your time to place them (yes, each and every one) onto the baking sheets in a single layer so they don’t touch. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, then switch the top batch with the lower batch and continue baking for 5~10 minutes until crispy and well caramelized (the skin should puff up a bit).

Serve immediately with the goat cheese aioli. The longer these fries sit the softer they get, so enjoy them while they’re golden!

Ooooohhh that goat cheese aioli though…!!

A Bit of Spring Cleaning

Get ready! Because you’re about to be hit by a blizzard , no it’s not winter anymore, I mean, explosion of recipes, all of which are vegan, super vibrant, fresh, and absolutely delicious! For those of you who are staying in touch via instagram (it’s on the right-hand-side, just click and follow to stay up-to-plate with everything I’m whipping up), you’ve probably been wondering why I haven’t put up the recipes to those pictures and I apologize!! Sorry, I truly am because sometimes I click on something that looks totally yum hoping to find its recipe but then it just turns out to be foodporn, and that makes me really disappointed.

I get that. So here’s a treat: a collage of recipes to kickstart spring!

Here I wanted to feature some of those under-acknowledged ingredients such as beet greens, parsley stems, green peas, and grainy mustard. Beet greens and parsley stems tend to just get trimmed off and thrown into the garbage which I find to be such a waste. Beet greens are actually loaded with all the great nutrients its roots has, but with more fibre and less sugar while parsley stems have even more flavour than the leaves, not to mention the nice texture it gives to the green falafel mash (recipe below!). Green peas and grainy mustard, on the other hand are like ugly christmas sweaters – you have them lying around not because they’re a kitchen staple, but because there was this one day when some magazine or trend convinced you to buy a bag/jar of the stuff (like how your friends convinced you of the sweater at Value Village). Then ever since that day it’s just been a shameful lump stuck in your pantry or fridge door.

It’s okay, it’s all good, literally. And I encourage you to really take this as a new starting point, see what poor miserable thing is your fridge or pantry that you’ve been wanting to get rid of, and cook dat thang!

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled,

and those who humble themselves

will be exalted.

Luke 14:11

Collage

Rice with Beet Greens (Top Left):

1 tbsp avocado oil

1 medium brown onion, finely diced

1 bunch beet greens, stem portion diced, leaf portion shredded

2 cups cold, cooked red and brown basmati or jasmine rice

sea salt

white pepper

pinch of cinnamon

To make the rice with beet greens, heat the oil on medium in a skillet or wok. Add the onions and let it sweat until translucent and fragrant. Turn up the heat to high and add the chopped beet greens, continue stirring until tender, then add the rice and season well to taste. Stir until the liquid is fully absorbed and mixture is heated through.

Serve immediately, with an earthy wild mushroom or nutty pureed squash soup.

 

Garlic Coconut Butter Grilled Naan

with Green Falafel Mash, Parsley Mango Slaw, and Sriracha Aioli (Top Right):

for the garlic coconut butter grilled naan:

2 fat cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp coconut oil

4 pieces whole wheat naan bread

To make the coconut butter, put combine garlic and coconut oil in a small bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds until fragrant. Brush the mixture onto one side of the naan and put that side down on a hot grill pan (it’s still pretty cold where I am, but if it’s summer wherever you are and you have the luxury of using a grill, by all means fire it up!). Lift up a corner to see if it’s nicely charred, once it is, brush the oil on the upper side and flip it over to get it grill-marked.

for the green falafel mash:

2 cups flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (throw the stems in there!)

1 can (540 ml) chickpeas, drained

1 generous tbsp madras curry powder

3 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

sea salt, to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a coarse puree forms. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with some more EVOO and set aside.

for the parsley mango slaw:

1 large mango, ripe but firm, thinly sliced

1 cup finely shredded flat leaf parsley

Stir together the mango and parsley in a bowl and set aside.

for the sriracha aioli:

2 heaping tbsp good quality mayonnaise, feel free to use your favourite vegan mayo or cashew cream!

1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (don’t tone it down, go beyond if it’s your thing!)

1 tbsp lime juice

In a small bowl stir together the mayo, sriracha, and lime juice, adding a bit more sriracha or lime juice to get a nice drizzling consistency. To assemble, spread the falafel mash onto the grilled naan, top with the mango slaw, and drizzle with the sriracha aioli.

Serve immediately with a minty cooler : blend together frozen yellow watermelon cubes + fresh mint + lime + coconut water!

 

Roasted Aloo Gobi (Bottom Right):

1 head cauliflower separated into bite-sized florets

1 large baking potato, diced into 1-inch pieces, boiled for 12 minutes

8 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup shelled green peas, frozen is fine

3 tbsp madras curry powder

2 heaping tbsp grainy mustard

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

sea salt, to taste

2 tbsp honey or agave

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine all ingredients besides the honey and place into two large baking trays. Bake for 1 hr, stirring every 10~15 minutes. Drizzle with honey and bake for another 10~15 minutes until vegetables are tender and caramelized.

Serve with coconut steamed basmati rice or garlic coconut butter grilled naan (above).

 

Lemon Butter Bean Tartines  with Spring Sugar Peas, Butter Lettuce, and Radishes (Bottom Left):

for the Lemon Butter Beans:

1 can (540 ml) white or butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 heaping tbsp grainy mustard

zest and juice of 1 small lemon

2 tsp honey or agave

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth, you might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Set aside.

for the tartine assemby:

few slices toasted baguette or spelt or dark rye bread, really anything goes

1 head Boston or butter lettuce, leaves washed and patted dry

1 cup shelled sweet peas, frozen ones are fine, just let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes

2 scallions, thinly sliced

4~5 radishes, thinly sliced

Spread a bit of the bean puree onto the toasted bread, then put the lettuce on (that way the lettuce will actually stay on the tartine). Fill the lettuce with more of the puree and garnish with the peas, scallions, and radish rounds.

Serve  with a strawberry almond milkshake: blend together frozen strawberries + almond milk + agave + vanilla extract

Happy spring cleaning your body, mind, and pantry!

 

It just creped into my mind

“Even shit sounds sexier in french.”

I totally abide that. No shame either.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that the french language just forces out the sexy voice of whoever speaks it, or is it just the fact that the language is inherently elegant. My point is, it’s sad, but most of us will voluntaritly listen to farts spewing out of someone else’s mouth if that person has even so much as a great smile, bright eyes, or a really attractive voice.

Nah, are we really that shallow? That a heart-to-heart conversation is not as high on our bucket list as being seen with a pretty-face? Perhaps we kid ourselves as we plow through the garbage that’s up to our eyes, trying to find some evidence of worth, some evidence that tells us that we are not so merely-skin-deep and that see? this dump is worth preserving because look what I found! A dime!

You are not a dump site, so stop setting yourself up as one.

And believe me when I say this, if you would just slow down a bit, and just stop looking for the most eye-catching person in the room, the conversation will find you. It will be when you least expect it, and it will be a surprise. It will be completely new, and it will be familiar at the same time. You don’t have to try to make an impression, because it wasn’t of your doing that it started in the first place. Just relax, because that’s when you are most lovely.

Humble yourselves, therefore,

under the mighty hand of God

so that at the proper time

he may exalt you.

~1 Peter 5:6

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Savoury Crepes with Kale Bechamel and White Button Mushrooms

Ingredients for the kale bechamel:

2 tsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

4 cups loosely packed torn kale leaves (stem removed)

1/4 cup water, divided

1 1/2 tbsp corn starch

3-4 tbsp heavy cream or half-and-half

pinch nutmeg

sea salt and black pepper to taste

To make the kale bechamel, heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant, then add the kale leaves. Stir and add a splash of water and cover to steam the kale. Stir the cornstarch into the remaining water. Once the kale is completely wilted, pour in the corn starch mixture and stir until the mixture tightens. Transfer to a tall container, season with sea salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. With a hand-held blender, blend the kale with the cream until a thick puree forms.

Ingredients for the rice crepes:

45 g fine rice flour

20 g tapioca or potato starch

1 free range egg

125 ml almond milk (soy, rice, or cow’s will all work)

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

pinch nutmeg

To make the crepes, heat a heavy non-stick skillet or seasoned crepe pan on medium-high heat. Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until very smooth. ( I like to whisk everything together in my beaker which has a handle, this makes the actual cooking part very clean and easy.)

For the crepe filling you will also need 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 3 tbsp god quality mayonnaise.

Once the pan is hot, dampen a piece of kitchen paper towel with oil or butter and wipe the pan all over with it. Pour in the batter and swirl it around the pan to form a thin layer. Place mushroom slices on one half of the crepe, spoon over the kale bechamel, then dot with the mayonnaise. Put the lid on to let the mushrooms soften a little, about 1~2 minutes. Lift up the untopped half of the crepe and fold it over to enclose the filling. Slide onto a hot plate, and serve. Do the same until you use up all the ingredients. You should be able to get 6 small crepes or 4 medium crepes.

Enjoy!

Tierce de Picanterie

Recently I’ve been noticing the simmering of a modern phenomenon, one that bubbles up against convention, and one that, truthfully spoken, makes me quite simultaneously pleased and bereaved. This new truth of the era cries out “good cooks are not the pudgy ones you’d imagine”.

Yes, sure, with the dawn of refined sugar and mass production of butter and white flour one would expect that chefs ought to be fat. But you know, people who can seriously cook are not stupid. We know the ingredients that are culprit to obesity (though we still put them into our creations from time to time as a shortcut to make people happy). We know exactly what goes into the food we make (and eat, since we most likely made it), so we have a choice – a choice for good health.

But I am grieved. Grieved from watching one of my best friends die in my generation. Why has the heart of a home become no more than a microwave? It should be a place where fresh water rushes cold from the tap, where the backs of spoons sound against the sides of porcelain bowls, and where one can just hear the muffled sputtering from inside the oven.

People, microwaving dehydrated potato sticks is not cooking. Never has a decent fry been made like so. I personally don’t like the wasteful nature of deep-frying (oil goes rancid if reheated after having previously been at a temperature sufficient for frying), so bake. Ditch the microwave/precut/frozen/not really fries.

Get real. Eat real.

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Ingredients for the mayonnaise trio:

3 tbsp good quality mayonnaise (with as little ingredients as possible), or vegenaise

1/2 tsp each chipotle paste, freshly cracked black pepper, and wasabi paste

To make the mayonaises, mix one tablespoon of mayonnaise with each of the flavourings in separate small dishes. Refrigerate until needed.

Ingredients for the yam fries:

3 medium-sized yams/sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 1/3-inch sticks with the skin on*

2 tbsp grape seed oil

2 tbsp sweet potato flour or cornstarch

coarse sea salt

To make the yam fries, preheat the oven to 410 degrees F, with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper brushed lightly with extra grape seed oil. In a large bowl, toss the cut up yams with the oil and starch.

Spread the yams evenly onto the baking sheet in a single layer without crowding. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly charred crisp-brown.

Serve immediately with the chilled mayonnaise.

Enjoy!

*for even crispier fries, leave the yams to air dry for 3o minutes after cutting and before tossing with the other ingredients.

So Cali

I’m no lobster girl. Should I offend, I apologize.

I find prawns to have sweeter flavour, it’s almost as if all the umami of a lobster were condensed into the size of a shrimp. They’re less vicious, because if one’s going to splurge on seafood, might as well get it live, right? Choosing prawns over lobsters are by far friendlier to planet Earth as well; did you know, lobsters can easily live up to 150 years (without us eating them faster than they can reproduce), and it takes a decade for a lobster to reach a size presentable at restaurants? Even the “chick” lobsters take at least 5 to 7 years –  that’s more than the lifespan of beef cattle, who are sent to the slaughter house at 24 months. Notice how the size of lobsters being dished up are getting punier and punier?

Eat prawns, but shun the farmed stuff. Get them wild, too. Now now, there’s no need to get paranoid just because of what I just made your brain accept. Nearly everything is alright in moderation – you don’t need a pound of the stuff, 200g is enough for two people. That’s about 6 large prawns.

So my mum surprised me with half a dozen of these gloriously plump tiger prawns freshly caught off the cold waters of B.C., and off goes my mental fireworks shooting off to California. I don’t know, I might need some sun (daylight savings is in 3 days!!). Of course I did not want to tamper with them too much, so I made a salad, sort of, with six ingredients. I tossed the prawns in just enough mayonnaise and a touch of wasabi, chopped some avocado and drizzled it with a squeeze of lemon juice, an cut out inch-thick steaks of sunny ripe mango.

Perhaps I don’t need the sun so much after all?

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Ingredients for the cali stacked salad:

6 large wild black tiger prawns, peeled, blanched then plunged in ice water

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1/4 tsp wasabi paste

1 ripe, but firm mango, peeled

1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped

juice of 1/2 lemon

radish sprouts or wasabi peas, to garnish

extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

To make the salad, chop the prawns into small pieces, and mix well with the mayonnaise and wasabi paste. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, “fillet” the mango so you get two large whole halves (discard the seed). Use a round cookie cutter (5 cm diameter) to cut out two thick rounds. Trim them so they’re nice and even in thickness.

Mix together the avocado and lemon juice.

To assemble, place a round cookie cutter (the same size as the one used for stamping out the mango) on a clean plate. Put a mango round back into the cookie cutter. Put another cookie cutter on top to add height, then spoon in some of the avocado mixture, pressing down gently to compact it. Finally, spoon half of the prawns over the avocado, packing it down again. Gently lift the cookie cutters. Voila, here’s a pretty stacked salad! Now just garnish with some peppery wasabi peas or radish sprouts!

Enjoy!