Chilli Pork - start of a new love affair
Growing up in a typical middle class Indian Bengali family can be gastronomically conservative. Our part of the world is overrun with various rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, thus fish is in abundance. So the protein part of our diet mostly consists of fish, occasional chicken and Sunday Special mutton, that's not lamb by the way, it is goat meat. Most of Indian subcontinent refers to goat meat as mutton. After we were 'old' enough to eat out with friends, the actual mutton, like the rest of the world, made it into our diet. So, how did the love affair start with pork? Well it took a journey across the planet and of course, the influence of handsome Mr. Anthony Bourdain.
It is not like I never had pork while in India, I did for a few times. Once I tried bacon somewhere, on another instance it was steaming hot pork dumplings served by a dimly lit roadside joint. I didn’t reject the taste but definitely didn’t fully acquire it as well. Everything changed when I tasted my first barbecued pork ribs. Being in Kansas City means to be in touch with world class barbecue, it is inescapable for a foodie to not taste it. Just the first bite, and Aha! Porkilicious enlightenment. But this post is not about my love for smoked meat, this is about the meat itself. It took me no time to venture into other parts of this fantastic animal. Pork belly, tenderloin, butt, shoulder, neck bone, ham hock or the wonderful chicharrones made with skin, you name it, I mostly had it all.
A big part of this consciousness about pig’s meat and its various forms wouldn’t have come to me so naturally, if I wasn’t a fan of Mr. Anthony Bourdain. Being an avid watcher of all of his shows means, you are bound to go into a pork coma. It is his favorite meat and he goes to a point of loving, praising and adoring the animal and its meat. Wherever in the world he goes, the hunt begins to find out what special form pork takes in that place, in that country or more specifically in that city. You couldn’t help but to get swayed and that’s what happened with me. Being a foodie and food blogger means opening new avenues for self, food wise and to write about it. Pork has opened a few highways for me, and this is my first ode to it. Presenting to you some delicious pork from Indo-chinese fare. Chilli Pork is rich in Asian flavors but the name of this dish has been Indianised. 'Chilli' in Indo-chinese food terms refer to spicy chili peppers and not to the chili known to the western world in the form of ground meat.
Pork : 1 lb/ 500 gms (cup into 1 inch long thin stripes)
Corn starch: 1 1/2 tbsp
Onions (diced): 1 cup
Ground black pepper: 1 tsp
Soy sauce: 2 tbsp
Green bell pepper (diced): 1 cup
Ginger: 1 in (cut in julienne)
Garlic (chopped): 3 to 4 cloves
Red chili flakes: 1 tsp
Green chilis (chopped) : 3 (or depending on how much heat you can handle)
Sesame seeds: 1 tsp
Vinegar: 2 tsp
Green/ spring onions (chopped) : 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Marinate the pork with the egg, vinegar ( 1 tsp), soy sauce ( 2 tsp), salt and ground black pepper for about 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a pan for shallow frying. Coat the pork pieces in corn starch. You may also use all purpose flour if you do not have corn starch handy.
Fry them until golden brown and keep them aside.
Heat oil ( 3 tsp) in another pan. Lightly saute the onions.
Add the ginger, garlic, red chili flakes and bell peppers. Saute everything on high heat for a couple of minutes. Add a little salt while sauteing.
In the mean time, mix the following together in a bowl : remaining soy sauce and vinegar, sesame seeds, half of the chopped green onions.
Then add the mixture into the pan and mix everything together.
Now add the fried pork pieces and green chilies. Give everything a nice mix and check for the seasoning. Add some more salt if needed. You may also add a little water ( 1 tbsp) if it looks too dry for your preference.
Garnish with the remaining chopped green onions and some sesame seeds.
Serve it with rice or noodles. Enjoy!!
Photographs by Swakshar Ghosh.