Sticky pork belly with salted roast pumpkin and crispy shallots

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Photo taken by Tom Regester from Sebby Holmes, Cook Thai, published by Kyle Books 2017

Ever since I tasted sticky pork for the first time when I started my journey in Thai food at the begging bowl it quickly become one of my favourite things to eat. It’s rich, sweet, salty yet savoury flavours make this dish a perfect one to impress friends. Me and the team at Farang like to smoke the pumpkin over cherry wood, however a salt roast is a little easier to do at home without setting any alarms off or make your house smell like a bonfire. In Thailand this is often eaten with rice and green papaya salad but its great just as it is.

Serves 2-3 people

300g, pork belly, skin removed

150g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into roughly 2cm by 2cm chunks

5g coarse sea salt

2 fresh bay leaves

1-star anise

1 x 4cm long piece of cassia bark (cinnamon sticks will do)

300g palm sugar (dark soft brown sugar can also be used)

100ml oyster sauce

50ml dark soy sauce

100ml fish sauce (depends on pork fat content and taste)

1 pandan leaf, tied in a knot and torn to release flavour (this can be left out if you cannot find one)

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

4 banana shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

500ml, sunflower oil, for deep frying the shallots

Firstly get the pumpkin and the pork belly ready for cooking. In two separate boiling pots bring some salted water to the boil, once boiling turn down to a simmer and add the whole chunk of pork belly into one pan and the pumpkin to the other. Cook the pumpkin for around 4-5 minutes and then remove and refresh under cold water, it should be softened but still very firm and holding its shape, not mushy, at this stage sprinkle the pumpkin with the coarse sea salt. Carefully cook the pork belly for around 12-15 minutes making sure not to boil the water whilst the pork is in it, the slower it is boiled the more tender it will be, remove once the pork has cooked throughout and all impurities have been cooked out of it, leave aside to cool slightly. Once cool, chop the pork into roughly 2cm by 2cm chunks.

Next make the sauce. In a separate oven proof pan add the sugar, oyster sauce, dark soy, pandan leaf, cassia bark, star anise and 50ml of the fish sauce to start. Heat all of this together gently and once melted add the chopped pork belly and stir well, making sure to coat all of the pork belly. Next place some parchment paper over the top of the pork belly mix and place in an oven at 160 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes. At this stage remove from the oven and add the blanched pumpkin and delicately fold it into the mix making sure not to mas up any pork or pumpkin, then return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes. Check the pork before you remove from the oven it should be slightly caramelised and tender, the pumpkin should be soft and ready to serve at this point, be careful handling it as it will be soft to the touch.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a medium pan on a high heat (roughly 180 degrees centigrade), once this is hot place one piece of shallot into the oil to ensure it is not too hot, the shallot should bubble and fizz in a controlled manner, if it hisses then the oil is too hot so turn it off and allow to cool for a few minutes before going again. Fry the shallots until they are beginning to turn golden brown and then remove and strain on a clean tray with kitchen towel to get rid of all excess oil. Use a fork to pick apart the shallots as they tend to cook together in clumps, as the shallots cool they will crisp up and become perfect for garnish.

Serve the sticky pork and pumpkin straight out of the oven, topped with the sliced spring onions and the crispy shallots. For the best experience eat immediately and as suggested above eat with salad and some Thai sticky rice for mopping up all the rich juices.

Thanks for reading and I hope you like the recipe, please do let me know your comments if you cook it up, (unless you don’t like it of course, ha- you can keep that to yourself). Hopefully I’ll see you in Farang soon for a bite.

Cheers,

@sebbyholmes

(Head chef / Director of  Farang London, Highbury, London N5 2XE)

Smoked Chicken, Wild Mushrooms, Sweet Basil, Coconut & Galangal Soup

Poached chicken, coconut & galingal soup (photo by Kaleem Hyder)

Photo from Farang by Kaleem Hyder

I have just spent the weekend in sunny Birmingham at the BBC Good Food Show cooking with the Thai Embassy on the Thai World Stage to help promote Thai produce and cuisine. I’ve never been to Birmingham before, although I have to say it felt like more like Kingston, Jamaica at 34 degrees- it’s been an absolute scorcher!

The show was a good crack actually, apart from it taking place at the NEC in Birmingham which has to be one of the most boring places on the planet- it reminded me of the film ‘The Truman Show’, where you feel you will walk through a door and hit a cardboard cut out of another door if you’re not careful. All the same the show was great and I’ve come back excited to get another recipe up on ‘Articuleat‘.

In this heat I wanted to cook something quick, effortless, light and tasty as fuck so I went for this soup. This soup can be made in many different variations, a few of which can be found in my book ‘Cook Thai‘ if you ever feel like giving them a go. It only takes a few bits and pieces and around 10-15 minutes to make and all of the ingredients can be found easily in most supermarkets these days. If you’re feeling really exotic throw in some king prawns to this soup too- awesome!

Ingredients Serves 2 / Vegetarian option

1 chicken breast, skin and fat removed, sliced into rough 2cm by 2cm pieces, directions for smoking in recipe  (do not use if vegetarian, ha)

1/4 butternut squash, roughly 50g, peeled and sliced into rough 2cm by 2 cm pieces (pumpkin can be used instead)

8 Thai Shallots, peeled and slightly bruised in a pestle

2 green birds eye chillies, bruised in a pestle

2 kaffir lime leaves, torn slightly

2 sticks lemongrass, chopped into 2 cm long pieces and bruised in a pestle

10g, galangal, peeled and chopped into 2 cm long pieces and bruised in a pestle

2 coriander roots, cleaned, washed and bruised in a pestle

½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (soy sauce if vegetarian)

200ml chicken stock (vegetable stock if vegetarian)

300ml coconut cream

10g, Thai sweet basil (normal basil will do)

50g, assorted wild mushrooms (I use enoki, shittaki and emoji mushrooms)

1 lime, juiced

Method

Before I get started with the recipe I’ll delve a little into explaining how to smoke the chicken. In this recipe I cold smoke my chicken which can be done very easily when you’re at home. This means that I will be adding the smoke flavour from the wood to the meat, without cooking it. All you need is some smoking wood chips, a pan, a colander and some cling film. Place a small handful of wood chips into the pan and heat the pan up until the wood chips set alight within the pan. Once this happens put the flames out with a little water, this will cause the chips to smoke heavily. at this stage place the chicken in the colander and then put the colander upon the smoking pan, then quickly cling film the whole thing so it is air tight with no smoke leaving the cling film. This will leave the chicken inside a smoke vacuum, with minimal oxygen so the wood chips will not be hot but will smoke a lot. If this is left untouched for 20 minutes the smokey flavour would have penetrated the meat, the longer you leave it the smokier the flavour.

Firstly, in a small sauce pan bring a little water to the boil and then submerge the squash into it, then turn down to a simmer, continue to gently cook for around 3-4 minutes until soft but not quite cooked and then remove from the heat and put aside for a few minutes (at this stage you might as well leave it in the hot water as we are to use it straight away).

Next place the chicken stock, 100ml of the coconut cream, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, sea salt, galangal, coriander roots, birds eye chillies, lemongrass, lime leaves, butternut squash and Thai shallots and mushrooms into a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering add the chicken pieces and continue to cook gently for 4-5 minutes until all chicken is cooked and all vegetables have softened with flavours infused.

Finish by adding the rest of the coconut cream and the sweet basil and the dishing out into bowls. Lastly check the seasoning, it should be creamy, salty, a little spicy, aromatic with a fresh hint of lime at the end, adjust if needs be.

Thanks very much for stopping by at ‘Articuleat’ and I hope you have enjoyed your stay. I always look forward to your feedback so please don’t hesitate to get in touch for any reason whatsoever – I will reply as swiftly as possible.

 

See you next time,

Cheers,

Sebbyholmes