It might seem as if meat is the only thing featured on this blog. What’s wrong with that? 🙂 no, seriously, I will make an effort to bring more vegetable centric dishes to this site. I want to write about the beautiful produce available in the region and I also want explore seafood more extensively, but that’s all coming up. Today’s post is about pork, and about exploring the wonderful orange sweet and sour glaze. Yes… if you like pork, you know what I’m talking about.
Last night while catching up with some food related reading I visited my friend Dan’s blog myeasychineserecipes.com and I was immediately tempted. His sweet and sour pork chops recipe looked so great. I don’t cook a lot of chinese dishes at home because quite frankly is a bit intimidating, definitely not my comfort zone, but I love chinese cuisine. Dan’s awesome blog has helped me understand that it was all in my head and that cooking chinese and other asian dishes is approachable by people with little experience in the field… like me. Check it out. It’s incredibly cool.
I have to apologize, I didn’t measure anything, but I will try to give approximate measurements. If you’re confident in the kitchen, you’re probably ok with this, if not, my advice is to taste as you go and adjust which is what I did. Don’t taste raw pork though, that would be silly and dangerous.
I also had to improvise a little bit, because I didn’t have ketchup or fresh oranges. Why is my fridge ketchupless is a mystery. Not having fresh oranges is more understandable, it’s almost winter time, but that’s not an excuse here in California where we have oranges all year round. I simply forgot to get them at the store. Luckily I had boxed orange juice, why not. Never cooked with it, perfect occasion to try it. In the end, the glaze is seasoned to taste, so balancing the acidity, sweetness and saltiness has to be done by … exactly… tasting the ingredients. Even when adding five spice powder, you can taste and adjust it. Bear in mind though, this mix will be reduced to a third if not more once cooked, so the flavors of the glaze will intensify quite a bit. And that’s great, they will coat the pork chops, a thin layer of it will have a great deal of flavor but shouldn’t overpower the chops.
2 pork chops (bone in, in this case)
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tbs soy sauce
4 Tbsp Orange Juice
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 Tbsp Tomato Sauce
3 tsp Soy Sauce + more to rub the chops
1 tsp Sriracha Sauce (have I mentioned I can’t stop eating this thing)
1/4 tsp Five Spice Powder
1/2 C sushi rice
Splash of mirin wine
Salt to taste/fish sauce
To prep the chops. Pat them dry with paper towels. Pour a bit of soy sauce over them, and rub evenly. Let rest and prepare the glaze.
To prepare the glaze. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, adjust until you’re happy with the sweet and sour/savory levels.
To make the rice. Rinse the uncooked rice in cold water until the it runs clear and there’s no more starch. Place rice in a pot with cold water and the salt. Cover with 3 times the rice volume in water. Bring to a simmer. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom or to itself. Simmer for about 6 minutes. Rinse, place in a bowl (I used the same pot) and add a splash of mirin, taste and adjust salt. Reserve
To sear the chops. Ok, Searing pork chops and overcooking pork chops are almost inseparable… it is tricky, specially if the pork chops aren’t thick enough. To help things, I did something that I learned a while ago and I want to share in case you find it useful. Basically, I don’t bring pork chops to room temperature. I want the a bit cold because that will protect the core temperature. I ONLY sear one side, and par-sear the other, I don’t care if the flip side doesn’t look beautiful, I’ll keep that in mind when I’m plating and present the nicely seared side on top. Ideally, the core temperature should be 60C or 140F. But that’s tricky to measure with a thin chop. If you can find double chops, or a whole rack, then the task to achieve the right temperature is a little easier. And if you use sous vide equipment then is a no brainer. But for a quick sunday dinner, a few traditional cooking tips and some practice can yield phenomenal results. No more dry rubbery pork chops please! Once the pork is seared, remove from the pan and keep the pan hot over the fire.
To make the glaze. Add the glaze mixture to the hot pan and deglaze the brown bits from searing the chops. I also add the liquid from the resting plate. Reduce the liquid until it becomes syrupy and bubbly. Should take a few minutes. Remove pan from the heat. Add the seared pork chops to the pan and using tongs, coat them with the glaze. You can remove the pork chops form the pan now. Let them rest for about 4-5 minutes before plating.
To plate. Add some rice to a small oiled/buttered bowl and gently press it to make it more compact but don’t mash the rice, keep it fluffy. Set a plate on the countertop. Gently tap the inverted rice bowl on the plate. The rice mound will keep its shape and sit nicely on the plate. Garnish with parsley or cilantro. I used parsley. Bring the pork chops to the plate and arrange to your liking. Serve immediately.
And that’s it. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes and it makes for an amazing meal. I’ve never made these pork chops before because sweet and sour recipes are a bit intimidating. I love to eat them but I had little experience on how to make them. Recently I started to experiment more with sweet and sour flavors. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit more confident at trying new things in the kitchen and that’s paying off. Super fun, not to mention absolutely delicious. Take good care!