It’s surprising how often I turn to Rick Stein’s Asian recipes. They are easy to do, and the results are reliably good. This is one such staple. As a family we like pork, it’s way more interesting than chicken, and is actually not as unhealthy as people think it is. Lean pork, has the same amount of fat as chicken breast, and is far tastier.
All this recipe needs is time, so it’s not for the evening when you are rushing to put dinner on the table. But it doesn’t need much attention, once you have everything in the pan.
Eat it with some Jasmine rice & stir fried greens. Bliss!
A word about the ingredients:
Pork shoulder – this is a relatively inexpensive cut, and is suited to slow cooking. If you chose quicker cooking cuts like tenderloin, convert the recipe to a stir-fry, and scale the sauces back. The result will be good, but the flavours won’t be as deep and intense.
Kecap manis – You definitely need to use kecap manis, which is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce, made with palm sugar. It’s key in this dish so don’t substitute. You won’t regret getting a good bottle of the stuff – it lasts forever, and is excellent for Nasi Goreng (an Indonesian style fried rice), for stir-fried noodles, etc.
Dark soy sauce – The dark soy sauce needs to be authentic. I say that because I bought a local brand here in London, and it was completely wrong. Dark soy is meant to slightly thick and not too salty, with caramel undertones. However what I got was a bad salty version of Japanese soy. This recipe relies on the sauces to get the flavour right, so do find a good Chinese brand to buy.
Tamarind paste – You can blocks of dried tamarind from Indian stores, but it’s a fair amount of work to use, and ready made tamarind paste is a good shortcut. I find the Asian brands less sour than the Indian ones, so adjust the quantity depending the brand you are using. Taste the paste to judge, and taste the dish at the end. It should have a slight tang.
Chillies – the recipe calls for both fiery bird’s eye chillies and milder long chillies. Deseed and use if you want a less spicy end result.
Garlic – Don’t be alarmed by the large quantity of garlic. It cooks down and mellows in the slow-cooking process.