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Happy new Chinese year . . . Mrs Portly sorts the sheep from the goats

PUBLISHED: 17:11 16 February 2015 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 February 2015

Mrs Portly's Char Sui Pork

Mrs Portly's Char Sui Pork

Archant

Linda Duffin turns east for some culinary inspiration

Pack choiPack choi

It’s Chinese New Year on February 19 and this year it’s the Year of the Goat. Or the Sheep.

They seem to be interchangeable in the Chinese horoscope and as I’m quite incapable on this occasion of sorting the sheep from the goats I thought I’d offer you something completely different.

Char Siu Pork is that delicious barbecued pork you sometimes get in Chinese restaurants, thinly sliced and packed with mouth-watering flavours. It’s ridiculously easy to cook at home, and served with wilted greens makes a terrific supper dish.

I say it’s easy to cook at home, but last year I spent hours scratching my head over incomprehensible (to me) labels in Chinese supermarkets in London’s Gerrard Street that were packed to the rafters with people shopping for the New Year. The queues went three times round the stores and one supermarket even had a bouncer on the door, trying to keep the hordes of shoppers down to manageable numbers.

Mrs Portly's Char Siu PorkMrs Portly's Char Siu Pork

I was there because I was trying to find a couple of hard-to-get Chinese ingredients, yellow bean paste and red fermented tofu. So I’ve adjusted the recipe to include ingredients you can get in pretty much any supermarket in Suffolk. I don’t think it compromises the taste.

I’ve used pork fillet, one of the tenderest cuts of pork, but one that is easily available and, as you can eat every scrap, very economical. I’m a big fan of Blythburgh Pork (http://www.freerangepork.co.uk/) which is free range, local and has an excellent flavour and texture.

Try serving the char siu with wilted pak choi (a very useful greenhouse crop at this time of the year), stir fried with ginger, garlic and spring onions and if you want to bulk it out, some steamed rice.

It’s Chinese New Year on February 19 and this year it’s the Year of the Goat. Or the Sheep.

They seem to be interchangeable in the Chinese horoscope and as I’m quite incapable on this occasion of sorting the sheep from the goats I thought I’d offer you something completely different.

Char Siu Pork is that delicious barbecued pork you sometimes get in Chinese restaurants, thinly sliced and packed with mouth-watering flavours. It’s ridiculously easy to cook at home, and served with wilted greens it makes a terrific supper dish.

I say it’s easy to cook at home, but last year I spent hours scratching my head over incomprehensible (to me) labels in Chinese supermarkets in London’s Gerrard Street that were packed to the rafters with people shopping for the New Year. The queues went three times round the stores and one supermarket even had a bouncer on the door, trying to keep the hordes of shoppers down to manageable numbers.

I was there because I was trying to find a couple of hard-to-get Chinese ingredients, yellow bean paste and red fermented tofu. So I’ve adjusted the recipe to include ingredients you can get in pretty much any supermarket in Suffolk. I don’t think it compromises the taste.

I’ve used pork fillet, one of the tenderest cuts of pork, but one that is easily available and, as you can eat every scrap, very economical. I’m a big fan of Blythburgh Pork (http://www.freerangepork.co.uk/) which is free range, local and has an excellent flavour and texture.

Try serving the char siu with wilted pak choi (a very useful greenhouse crop at this time of the year), stir fried with ginger, garlic and spring onions and if you want to bulk it out, some steamed rice. In the unlikely event that you have any left over, it’s very good cold, thinly sliced.

Char Siu Pork (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

1 pork fillet, approx 450g

3 tbsp hoi sin sauce

2 tbsp rice wine or dry sherry

2 tbsp runny honey

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp yellow bean paste (optional)

2 tbsp red fermented tofu (or use Oyster Sauce)

1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

1/4 tspn Chinese Five Spice powder

Spring onions, chopped, to garnish

Method:

Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Trim the meat of any membrane, turn it in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and preferably overnight, turning from time to time.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.

Put an inch or so of water into the bottom of a roasting tin, put a rack inside and place the meat on the rack, reserving the marinade.

Roast for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.Turn the meat, brush it with marinade and cook for a further 20-25 minutes or until the meat is cooked but still juicy.

While the meat is cooking, thicken the remaining marinade in a pan on the stove. Make sure it’s thoroughly cooked as you’ve had raw pork marinating in it.

To serve, cut the pork into thickish slices. Arrange the stir-fried vegetables on a dish, put an overlapping line of pork on top and drizzle with the reduced marinade. Scatter with the chopped spring onions and serve.

Linda Duffin is a Suffolk-based food writer who likes to cook and eat seasonally and locally. She blogs as her alter ego Mrs Portly at http://mrsportlyskitchen.wordpress.com.

1 comment

  • Lovely Mrs Portly, thank you for an easy recipe to follow, yours looks a lot better than mine.

    Report this comment

    Karon Sanders

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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