Ponchomi te Potluck by Jatayu…a Bengali’s take on Roast Sichuan Pork

roast sichuan pork
The heading was inspired by Bonnie and was a take on Satyajit Ray’s Sonar Kella

Remember Ross racing across NYC to catch Rachel as she left for Paris in the last episode of FRIENDS? Or Imran Khan’s character doing the same for Genellia’s in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na? And in countless other Hindi Films such as Love Story and, possibly, Yeh Dillagi.

It was a bit like that for me the as I drove back from work on Friday. I gnashed my teeth as I navigated the traffic. Called whenever I could stop at traffic signal to say ‘hold on I am on my way’.

I finally reached in the nick of time. Actually after the scheduled time but the object of my desire was still waiting for me.

A kilo of pork chops which the delivery guy of Meghna Agro at Pali Market had got for me.

pork chops

The next day was a pot luck at a friend’s place. I had volunteered to get pork.The cooking method I had recently picked up at Gia’s pork master class. The pork had to be marinated overnight. Hence the desperation to pick up the pork.

Rest of the cooking was hassle free. I honestly feel that the chops didn’t turn out to be as luscious as the ones Gia made though the others found them to be quite tender. On hearing what I did Gia’s take was this could have happened because I kept the over at 250 instead of 200 degree C.

I don’t know how ‘authentic’ the dish was but I only used Chinese ingredients.

The Sichuan peppercorns, Chinese 5 Spice, star anise that Dennis, or @DeeSeelicious on twitter, very kindly got for me from Beijing along with some Chinese tea, melon seeds and cinnamon. I am blessed to have such food Santas in my life. To these Chinese ingredients I added soy and red chilly sauces by See Cheung from Kolkata’s China Town, Tangra. Vinegar. And honey which is used in Chinese cooking. The recipe was intuitive but my gut tells me that there was something Chinesy about it.

The taste was different from any ‘Chinese’ dish we have had at India. The 5 spice & vinegar gave it a slight Goan taste. The star anise added a touch of sweetness. The Sichuan pepper corns a heaty punch.

Tweeps who blog, @eatingasia & @rasamalaysia gave me their inputs on how to use the Sichuan peppers

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Sichuan pepper corns
So here’s the recipe:

Marinade:
  • 1 kg pork chops cut into 4 inch pieces with 5 tablespoons each of soy and red chilli sauces, honey and vinegar.
  • 2  tablespoons each of ginger paste, 5 spice powder and Port.
  • 2 tablespoons of whole Sichuan peppers and 4 to 4 star anises.
  • Keep over night
 marinated pork                       the morning after

Cook
This is a new technique that I picked up from Gia the other day. No effort at all. Just needs an OTG
  • Take the pork out of the marinate and fry it in a pan of hot oil. It’s a flash fry so you just want both sides to braise a bit and you are done
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  • Add the pork back to the sauce in a baking dish. Add a bit of salt if you think the marinade needs it
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  • Cover the dish with a cooking foil so that the moisture is retained
  • Put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 d c and roast it
  • After 30 minutes take the bowl out. Remove the foil. Stir the contents gently
otg                     After 30 minutes
  • Put it back in the oven for minutes at 200 degree c. This time uncovered
  • Once done keep it in the oven for another ten minutes and you are ready

after 60 minutes

Best eaten with steamed rice

roast pork

There was some spectacular food at our pot luck on Saturday night. Every dish was a hit. And I am not saying this out of politeness.

Bonnie, our hostess who not only washed the vessels we got the stuff in before returning them cooked up two fantastic salads. These even had the Bong meat loving men pawing at them frantically.

There was a grilled beet, orange, pine nuts and feta salad with an inspired touch of beet noon or Bengali chaat masala.

Another salad with icy rocket, doughty walnut and some lovely Parma ham.

And later for dinner an Indian themed pork curry with a tantalising zest which Bonnie got by putting in one dried gondhoraj lebu or Bengal lime leaf.

Bonnie owns a million cook books and I can bet that all their authors would have been proud to make the dishes she made that day.

SONY DSC  beet and orange salad rocket, feta, ham salad
pork curry with gondhoraj lebu

Then there was Mithu with her doi maach (rohu in curd). The sauce had achieved the sort of celestial finesse which I have never come across before. Never managed to get myself.

She still hasn’t parted with the recipe!!!!

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Plus the incredibly succulent chicken that Jini made in a rough, edgy, ‘Calngute flavoured’ ,as Bonnie called it, Goan cafreal mix. Authentic right down to the fried chips layered on it.

SONY DSCchicken cafreal 

There was cake for dessert and I had ordered Sweet Bengal’s Puja Specials – mihi dana and chhanar pulao – along with mishti doi. I suggested eating all the three together to save bowls.

Turned out everyone just loved this combination.

mishti doi   chhanar payesh mihi daana

And so we brought in Durga Puja 2011 with great food and adda (chatting).

Religions that all Bengalis swear by.

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Update: 5 October

Talking of Gia's 'Master Class' I found the comment she put really useful and felt it should be part of the post. So here goes:

"Since you called it a master class, here is your evaluation :-)

Don't use bowls to bake, always use a flat dish while baking, the heat needs to evenly distribute. Also, the juices from the marinade need to cover the meat evenly.
Baking is a process that cooks while drying out the moisture, so unless you're baking cakes/bread/cookies you really don't want that... Esp with meat, it's very imp to ensure your juices don't dry out.

Secondly, the meat shouldn't be braised before baking, it should be seared in a pan on high heat. Just for a few seconds on each side so that all the flavours and juices get locked in and the meat continues to cook in all of that goodness when you transfer to the oven.

Which brings me to my next point. Searing meat is easier when the pieces are bigger. So next time don't get the ribs or chops cut before you cook. (You can easily cut them into smaller pieces with a good meat cleaver, after baking.) Also when you roast meat in the oven it's better to have it in bigger chunks so that it doesn't dry out.
Smaller pieces of meat are more suited for braising in a lot of liquid - like a stew or curry.

Plus when you're cooking smaller pieces of meat, the time should be reduced and definitely the temp as well. So you should have actually baked this for 40-45 mins at 200 C. And since you were using a bowl, the foil should have been kept on throughout.

Of course, my analysis is just based on the pix and what you've written. I'm sure it tasted great, judging from the spices and seasonings you've used.

Happy Roasting :-)
5 October 2011 11:29"

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