So this week, I’ve been all over the cheaper cuts of meat for some reason (three days till payday!!!). Often these have a bad rep, but with a little longer cooking times, and a few of the right ingredients, you can’t go wrong!
Cheap cuts are generally poorly served by the ’15 minute meal’ mentality. They’ll go tough and horrible, and all the flavour in the world can’t compensate for having to endure a full body workout just to cut through the damned thing. Slow cooking draws out the fats and causes the muscle tissue to fall apart, resulting in tender, delicious meat.
This dish is a Vietnamese stew or curry, depending on your mood. Vietnamese food seems to exist in a perfect middle ground between the umami richness of Chinese food, and the fresh, fragrant fireiness of Thai cuisine, and as a result, it really works for me!
- 750g Pork shoulder steak or cheap chops
- 4 hard boiled eggs
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- Black pepper
- 2 shallots or a small onion
- Dried chillies, to your own tastes
- 1 can coconut milk
- Handful fresh coriander or holy basil (sometimes called Thai basil), to serve
In a small bowl, mix the garlic, finely diced, the fish sauce, sugar and a dash of pepper, then marinade the pork in this for at least 30 minutes.
Hard boil the eggs too, so they’re nice and cool for an hour or so’s time, and easy to peel.
When your marinating is done, dice the onion, and chop the chilli up, and gently soften these in a large saucepan with a lid for 5-10 minutes. When you’re done, increase the heat slightly, and add the steaks and all of the marinade, and seal the meat. Pour over the coconut milk, bring this to the boil, stirring all the ingredients together, then reduce to the very lowest possible simmer*. Put the lid on, and leave for an hour, returning for a stir and a curious look about once every 20 minutes or so.
After an hour, remove the lid, add the eggs, and increase the temperature very slightly. Give a stir every 5 minutes or so, until the coconut milk has turned to a rich, thick gravy, around half an hour or so.
You can eat it as is, but at this stage, I like to remove the steaks and egg, dice them up more finely and stir them back into the sauce.
Serve over a bed of noodles, dressed with a little coriander or holy basil. Rich, coconut sauce, tender melting meat. Proper comfort food.
- As Julia Child points out in the famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the French have about 10 words for different kinds of boil. We have two, simmer and boil, which is a failing of our language. And only one, beginning with a ‘C’ and not usable in polite society to describe our feelings for Piers Morgan. Ours is truly the language of the repressed! Anyway… in this instance, the surface of the coconut milk should be barely disturbed by a small chain of bubbles, nothing more.