Saturday, May 2, 2015

Korean inspired Slow Cooker Spicy Pork

This is a great recipe to start with if you want to experiment with Korean inspired cooking.  It's also a great excuse to look for an Asian market in your area and shop for some exotic ingredients.  You can also purchase these on Amazon if you don't have a local store.  I luckily have two great ones near by.  Onward to the recipe

1 pork sirloin roast, get the darkest pink you can.  It's more tender.  Another option is butt roast.  Make sure it's well trimmed of fat
1 large onion, chopped roughly
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
2-3 inches of ginger, chopped roughly
1/2 cup of Chinese cooking wine (see note below)
2 tbsp. of soy sauce
2 tbsp. of Korean rice syrup (see note below)
1/4 cup of Gochujang, red pepper soybean paste

Oil for crisping up, optional
2 tbsp. of potato starch for sauce, optional

Add all the above ingredients into a crockpot.  Let it cook for about 2 hours on low.  Once it's just cooked through, I remove it, slice it into thick steaks and then place it back in.  Cook for another 2 hours or till tender.  For my crockpot this is 4 hours but for yours it might be more or less.  You can leave it all day and it will fall apart.  I choose to slice it so I can brown it later and it exposes more of the "meat" to the sauce.

Once done, I crisp it up in a bit of oil till browned on both sides.  It takes a minute per side to do this.  After removing the pork, I strain the liquid into a saucepan over medium heat..  I then add 2 tbsp. of potato starch (you can use corn starch) to 2 tbsp. of water stir well in a small ramekin.  Then add to the strained sauce.  I bring it to a boil while stirring frequently.  Then you will have a luscious sauce for your pork.

You can make kimchi fried rice or plain steamed rice and kimchi to serve alongside.

This is the brand of Chinese cooking wine I use,

This is the Korean rice syrup I buy,
Moros y Cristianos. (Moors and Christians)

This dish is a staple in all and any Cuban households at one point in their lives.  Because of that there are a million ways to prepare it.  This is merely my way of doing it. I also am a lazy cook and use shortcuts when I can.  You can use dried beans soaked overnight in water.  Water discarded and then cook the beans in fresh water till soft.  I avoid all that and buy high quality canned black beans.  I have done it both ways and don't detect a major difference.  If anything I shamefully prefer the canned.

Moros y Cristianos

2 cups of white long or medium grain rice, rinsed well
1 white onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Squirt of tomato paste from a tube OR 1 tbsp of tomato paste
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
Tsp of each: Oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin
1 bay leaf
4 cups of chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Add enough olive oil to a large sauce pan and saute onion and pepper till soft.  Add garlic and tomato paste and cook till soft.  Toss in rest beans, seasonings and broth.  Stir.  Then add in the rice. Stir again.  Bring to a boil, then cover and turn to low.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

You can also add a goya packet to the rice as well if you want a bit more oomph in flavor.

Cuban bread, the easy way.

More recipes! Cuban ones at that.  It's winter, dreary and blah types of days here.  Family always wants more comforting cuban meals.  Will be finally updating this site as well.

Making three cuban dishes tonight, Bistec en Cazuela and Moros y Cristianos.  Will also make cuban bread in my bread maker to round out the meal along with a simple avocado and tomato salad.

First, Cuban bread.  Cuban bread is a soft pillowy dough with a super thin crisp crust normally made with a starter.  I am too much of a procrastinator to bother with a starter so I make it simpler with a close result to the real thing.  You can leave the dough in the bread machine and let it bake it for you from start to finish.  But I prefer to do the dough cycle and then shape it into loaves to be baked on a pizza stone in the oven.  Alot of people are leery of lard but it's what gives Cuban bread it's signature soft chewy texture.  I have subbed out butter, oil, shortening coconut oil etc all with no luck.  However in my Middle Eastern store, I buy ghee.  And it's a very close substitute in texture.  If you absolutely do not want to use lard or ghee then omit completely and you might have to add a touch more water to the below.  You will then be making a cuban "water" bread that is a close third to the real thing.


1 cup of warm water
3 cups of bread flour
1 tsp of salt
3 tablespoons of lard OR ghee
2 tsp of yeast
I squeeze of honey

Place in bread machine as noted above. (the honey blooms the yeast)  Place it on dough cycle.  When done, take out dough with floured hands and roll it out on a lightly floured surface.  Roll it into a log or "loaf" and pinch the edges. Tuck the ends down and pinch. (see pictures) This will give that inside that is twirly.

Place on cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper for easy transfer to pizza stone and cover with plastic wrap to rise for another hour or so.

Preheat oven to 400 with a pizza stone inside. Pour water in a shallow oven safe dish and place on bottom rack under the pizza stone.  This will ensure a thin but crispy crust.  Also get ready a 1/4 cup of water.  When done rising and oven is preheated,get a sharp knife and make a shallow cut lengthwise of the dough.  Brush on water, buttermilk or milk or cream on the outside all over.  Then use the parchment paper to pick up dough and place on pizza stone.  That way you don't deflate the delicate dough.  Here is the tricky part, just before closing the oven door, splash the 1/4 cup of water directly on the oven floor and slam shut the door.  It will make instant steam. Bake for 20 minutes or better yet till a thermometer inserted down the center read 200 degrees.

Arroz Imperial

This has to be the family's most favorite dish of all time from my kitchen.  They ask for it constantly and fight over the leftovers.  It's a dish I grew up with for special occasions but in my house, it's a staple. There are again a million ways to make this dish and this is my version.  You can also cheat and use the foil packets of saffron yellow rice.  You can make your own yellow rice with the goya con azafaron packets or saffron threads.  I am going to list the saffron threads type as this is what my family prefers the most.  But it's easily done with the other two methods.  I use the larger foil packet (calls for 6 cups of water).  Or I do the 3 cups of rice with 2 packets of the Goya con azafaron packet.  I have heard of something called bijou that can be used as well but haven't myself.   I have had this dish with peas in the rice.  I don't like peas or overly mushy veggies so I omit vegetables in this recipe altogether and serve it alongside instead.

Arroz Imperial

3 cups of long or medium grain rice, rinsed.
1 tsp of saffron threads, soaked in 1/2 cup of hot water.
3 tbsp of butter
5 1/2 cups of water
1 tsp of salt

6 pieces of boneless/skinless chicken, we use breasts you can use thighs as well.

1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can of tomato sauce
Tsp of each: Oregano, onion powder, garlic powder
1/2 tsp of salt/pepper

1 cup of mayo OR homemade lime garlic aioli (recipe below)
1 cup of mozzarella cheese

In a large sauce pan, add rice, saffron WITH the soaking liquid, butter, rest of water and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Once to a boil, cover and reduce to a low heat.  Cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large pan, cover bottom of pan with olive oil and turn on heat to medium high.  Add chicken and cook on both sides till seared.  Set aside.  Turn heat to medium and saute onions till soft.  Then add peppers, saute till soft.  Add in garlic, sauce and seasonings.  Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.  Take out about 2 spoonfuls into a bowl.  Back to the pan, add back in chicken with a splash of white cooking wine and 1/2 cup of water.  Stir and cover.  Cook it over medium heat till cooked through.  About 20 minutes. When done, let it cool slightly and chop into bite sized pieces.

In the bowl with the reserved sofrito, add mayo and stir well.  Salt/pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Now finally to the assembly.  In a large casserole pan, layer half of the rice along the bottom.  Place chicken with sauce over that.  Smooth it down as best as you can.  Layer with remaining rice.  Top rice with mayo mixture and sprinkle cheese along the top.

Bake in 375* oven till golden and bubbly.  About 30 minutes.  Serve.  I have doubled the topping as the family loves it gooey so feel free to do so as well.

Homemade lime garlic aioli

1 clove of peeled garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of eggbeater OR one egg yolk ( it will be raw)
Juice of half of lime
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of neutral tasting oil

Place garlic, eggbeater/or yolk, lime and salt in the blender.  Blend on low till mixed well.  Use a rubber spatula and scrape down sides.  Cover blender leaving off the little middle twisty thing to allow pouring of the oil.  Place blender on it's lowest setting.  Stream in oil very slowly along the top.  Mixture should be liquidy and getting paler in color.  When done with the oil, turn off blender and voila you have homemade mayo.

If you are getting it too liquidy or blender is too strong, try a food processor and again on the lowest setting.

Crazy Crockpot Recipes that are delicious.

I saw these recipes and thought, naaaah that can't work.  But so many liked them so I decided to try it.  Wow, what a results.  Here is a small collection of random Crockpot recipes that are delish, easy and comes together quickly.

Mississippi Roast

This one is the nuttiest, but trust me, absolutely delish.

Chuck roast or other lean beef roast
A package of Ranch dressing mix (I am partial to Aldi's store brand or Hidden Valley buttermilk packet)
A package of Au Jus mix  (I use Knorr's)
10 Peperoncini rings
1/2 stick of butter.

Place beef in crockpot, sprinkle packets over the beef.  place pepper rings on top of seasoned beef and place the butter on top of it all.  Close and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Yes, you read that right and no liquid of any kind is needed.  You will have the most luscious gravy and mouthwatering tender beef.  You can add potatoes to this but I add 1/2 cup of water since the potatoes will absorb the gravy.

Kalua Pork
Pork butt or sirloin cut
Red Clay Alaea salt  (for informational purposes, no affiliate links here.  You can also get on amazon, world market etc)
Liquid Smoke

Place pork in crockpot, spread liberally on all sides of the pork with the red clay salt.  Sprinkle about a teaspoon of liquid smoke.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Once done, shred and serve.  There isn't a subsitute for the red clay salt and it's truly what makes this dish incredible.  I tried it with kosher salt, black lava salt and other mineral type of salts and never was able to duplicate the flavor of the Alaea salt.  It's worth the hunt for it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Souvlaki and all the sauces

 Pork Souvlaki

2 pounds of pork tenderloins (2 "roasts")
Juice of one lemon
2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp of fresh oregano
Optional, tsp of greek blend of herbs

Slice pork into medallions.  Add into large baggie or tupperware or container.  Add rest of ingredients and stir to combine.  Let it marinate for a few hours.  If longer, omit the lemon/vingar and add an hour or so before cooking.  The lemon and vinegar will cook the pork and make it way too tangy if left on too long.

Onward to the sauces:


1 cup of unflavored, plain greek yogurt. (Fage is a great one)
Juice of half of lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp of minced red onion (I save a bit when I am chopping the onion for the pork)
1/4 cup of diced cucumber
1 tsp of dill
Salt/Pepper to taste

Mix all the above in a container.  Cover and let it sit for a few hours in the refrigerator.  This can be made ahead of time.

Pickled cucumbers

1 cup of cucumbers, diced
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp of dill
1 tsp of pickling spice
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
Splash of water.

Add all the above in a shallow container to allow the cucumber to get a bit of the liquid.  Shake and let it marinate for a few hours.  This also can be made ahead of time.


5 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice of half of lemon
Tsp of salt
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup of egg white (I use the pasteurized eggbeaters egg white mix)
1 cup of oil (your choice, I use grapeseed)

In a blender, add garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and egg white.  Blend till foamy and combined well.  Scrape down and blend again on low.  Leave it on low, remove little lid from your blender lid to allow streaming in oil.  Stream in oil very slowly (a very very very slow drizzle)  It should whiten, thicken and then get almost to a mayo consistency.  Once all the oil is streamed in.  Add 2 tbsp of water while it's still on low to allow it to be pourable.  Turn off blender and pour into a container.  Let it marinate for a few hours and also can be made ahead of time.

Now all the sauces are made.  I also chop up tomatoes and lettuce.  I buy the mini pita breads or make it from this recipe:  I even used the flatbreads in a pinch as well.

Onward to the pork:

In a large saucepan over high heat, add the contents of the pork, marinade and all.  Cover and let it cook on high heat for a good 10 minutes to boil off any rawness from the marinade.  Uncover occasionally and stir.  Once the 10 minutes of high heat cooking, remove cover and let it cook over medium heat till marinade cooks off and the pork/onions get golden.  About 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Then serve with all the sauces/suggestions above.

Asian Adventures-Taiwanese Minced Pork over rice

2 pounds of ground pork, lean
1 box of s-h-i-take mushrooms (or whatever you like), sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 inch of ginger, minced
1/2 cup of fried shallots, (I buy these at my asian market, you can make your own)
2 TBSP of Golden Mountain Seasoning sauce (If you don't have this or oyster, sub for soy sauce)
2 TBSP of Oyster sauce 
1/4 cup of good dark soy sauce (mine is thick and a little goes a long way)
1/2 cup of Chinese cooking wine (avoid the overly sweetened mirin, get the plain one)
1 tsp of 5 spice powder 
1 piece of rock sugar (I buy this at my Asian market, you can sub out for 2 or 3 tbsp of honey)

5 soft boiled eggs, peeled.

Add a touch of oil to pan, saute mushrooms for a minute, then add garlic, ginger and shallots. Cook over high for a few minutes till fragrant. Then add in the pork and stir through. Add rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the eggs. Stir through and cook on high till pork is no longer pink. Keep stirring to break up larger chunks that form as it cooks. About 10 minutes. Then add a bit of water till the meat is barely covered. About 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup. Not too much. Then turn heat down to low and cover for an hour. Stirring once or twice. I use a french oven for this, the recipe I posted above used a crock pot.

After an hour, add eggs and nestle them on top to absorb the sauce. Cover and let it cook for another hour on simmer stirring occasionally and being careful of the eggs. Rotate the eggs so it browns from the braising liquid all over. . Add a tbsp of cornstarch to a couple of tbsp of water. Stir in cornstarch mixture and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes till thickened. It should be very tender and thick. Serve over rice and sprinkle more of the fried shallots on top. I also have added sliced green onions.