Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Chinese simmered star anise pork

This is another recipe from Donna Hay's book, Flavors, which I highly recommend. for those who've never used star anise, it's a spice that tastes a lot like licorice. The seeds come in decorative little star-shaped pods (hence the name) that can give your dish a little exotic flair. Go on, spice up your Monday night dinner!

1 T sesame oil (I used canola)
1 T shredded ginger (I think she means finely chopped, but I actually grated the ginger and that worked well)
1 c Chinese cooking wine or sherry (I had a tiny bit of Chinese rice wine and a bit of red table wine, and so I filled in the rest with apple cider vinegar)
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c hoisin sauce
2 T sugar (I used 3 to offset the vinegar)
2 star anise
4 pork fillets, trimmed (I used boneless chops)

To paraphrase: Heat oil over low heat. Add ginger and cook for one minute. Add wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, and star anise, and allow to simmer [me: How long, Donna? I just brought it to a simmer and then immediately...]. Add pork to pan and cover. Cook for five minutes each side or until the pork is tender [and thoroughly cooked, for heaven's sake -- chops took a bit longer].

Remove pork and set aside. Simmer sauce until it has reduced and thickened [I let mine turn into syrup -- yum]. Slice pork and serve over rice alongside greens and with sauce.

Despite all the sugar I added it didn't seem that sweet to me at all. The apple cider vinegar flavor came through but harmonized well with the anise, I think. One reason I like cooking with pork is that it holds its own with strong flavors (like apple cider vinegar and anise) but isn't as rich as, say, lamb. I cooked some Lundburg's mixed wild rice and steamed some bok choy. Alas, in fussing over the pork, sauce, and rice I overcooked the bok choy, which obliterated its cellulose and turned it all practically into mush. Don't let this happen to your bok choy.

Today I'm especially in love with Jasper. We read a story earlier this afternoon about a crazy woman who makes her servants build a tower so she can touch the moon. So while we were walking home this evening Jasper looked up at the moon, held out his hand, and said, "I can't reach the moon!" But then he waved his hand and said, "I tickle the moon!" I pretended to be the moon and giggled for it. Then as we walked up the block he tickled all the trees. How do you help your child retain that playfulness?

Here he is holding his "baby." Lest any of you think that all of the teachings of my Mormon upbringing were lost on me, I am still clinging to thrift. This was once a pair of pants. When I stopped wearing the pants I cut off the legs and stuffed them to make draft stoppers. And now that Jasper is becoming attached to it I think I'll actually sew it up into a doll.


Anonymous said...

I remember those pants! They were very cute. I'm glad they've found a new life as draft-stoppers.

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Tickling the moon. That's wonderful! I remember when I was nannying my little charge Austin and I went walking one day. Midway through out walk, he stopped and knelt down to watch ants. He was captivated by them. There's something very Zen about children that adults could learn a lot from. His simple act of mindfulness made me more conscientious about the little things in life that are full of simple wonder, like ants and the moon.

Co said...

Sadly, research shows that kids lose some of their wonderful creativity when they reach school age. Draw your own conclusions.

I remember a tape of my brother as a very small child (maybe 3?) talking about his day. My mom asked him, "What did you do today?" He replied that he and his best friend Michael "went to the sun." I love stuff like that.

Tickling the moon. How grand! Go, Jasper.