Monday, July 04, 2011

America the (Asian?) Melting Pot

I trust that everyone had a fabulous Fourth? We didn't do much around my house, but I did fire up the smoker (that we affectionately call R2D2) and made the MOST wonderful Sweet-n-Sassy Smoked Chili Pork Chops! The recipe is an adaptation of a winning pork recipe for a contest from Bush's Grilling Beans hosted by The Pioneer Woman. You should really check out all of the finalists' recipes: I have also made the harissa ribeye (YUM!), and I will be trying the tandoori chicken breasts soon. But I was charmed by the idea of a marinade for pork that involves soda pop. And guess what? It was DELISH! Of course, I had to make a few additions to put my own twist on the dish...and I'd do it again!

Sweet-n-Sassy Smoked Chili Pork Chops
(adapted from a contest-winning recipe featured on The Pioneer Woman)

8 bone-in pork chops (about an inch thick)
1 12 oz. bottle root beer (or Coke or Dr. Pepper)
4 to 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce (plus more for basting*)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
juice of one lemon
1 10 oz. bottle apple juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon whiskey mustard (or strong-flavored mustard of choice)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons hot sauce (or to taste)
1 sweet onion, sliced thinly

Combine above ingredients and let marinate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Smoke the chops for about three hours, basting with more chili sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce (*I used Sweet Baby Ray's). You may also grill over direct heat until desired doneness.

We ate four of the pork chops last night for our (day before) Independence Day dinner along with baked potatoes and corn on the cob. But there were four chops leftover (not to mention half a package of hoagie rolls hanging about), and I had a brilliant idea to refashion the smoky pork into a bahn mi of sorts. Technically, what I ended up with was not exclusively Vietnamese, because I dressed the sandwich with teriyaki mayo (nod to Japan), and the piece de resistance was my homemade cucumber kimchi known as Oi Sobagi, so that added a Korean element. Come to think of it, I added some Thai fish sauce to that, too. So I'm sure I broke some important rules of Asian fusion along the way, but DANG, did I come up with the most flavorful sandwich!

Ok, first, the cucumber kimchi. So I am still in my food fermentation fetish period, especially since I have received my copy of Wild Fermentation and the accompanying workshop on dvd. However, after all that sauerkraut, I couldn't face another cabbage, and I didn't want to wait weeks and weeks to enjoy my product. So I thought I might make a quick cucumber kimchi that only takes 24-48 hours to ferment, and it turned out SO delicious! My only regret is that I couldn't find any of the Korean ground red pepper flakes in my tiny little town, so my pickles lack that characteristic red color in Korean kimchi. Oh well. I'll pick some up the next time I'm in Montreal or Burlington.

Oi Sobagi (Cucumber Kimchi)
(adapted from the blog amusingly entitled, "I Can Smell the Crazy" )

5 mini seedless cucumbers, sliced thinly
1/2 tablespoon canning or kosher salt
1/4 large sweet onion, sliced or diced
2 green onions, sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sriracha (better yet, use 1 tablespoon ground Korean hot chili flakes if you can find them)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (of course, this is Thai...but a yummy addition to the mix)

Salt sliced cucumbers and let sit overnight. Drain. Add other ingredients. Ferment at room temperature for 24-48 hours. Fill a pint jar and store in the fridge.

Lastly, to make the bahn mi-type sandwich, I toasted the rolls, spread them with a little mayo that I had spiked with a splash of teriyaki sauce, added some slivers of raw onion, then slices of the smoked pork (warmed slightly, but not hot), and finished with the cucumber kimchi (oi sobagi). So much flavor--and just CRAZY GOOD! I hope your Fourth of July eats were just as sparkly, and that you shared them with family and friends.

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