“Claypot” Pork

Mexican buffet, grilled sesame tofu with farmers market tomatoes and soy, turmeric lamb tacos with goat cheese and chutney, skirt steak salad, killer Russian River Pinot Noir, long walk in the park chasing my son on his skateboard, laughing with my daughter, enjoying my wife and friends. What a great weekend! I hope you had a lot of the same! One dish I want to share with you is my claypot pork. The first time I had a claypot dish was about 15 years ago at the legendary Slanted Door in San Francisco. The rich, deep brown sauce that blanketed the chunks of super moist catfish mesmerized me. The sauce was a touch sweet but never cloying. It had great balance and the texture was so intriguing. The sauce would stick to your teeth for just a moment and then dissolve onto your tongue. I wanted to create a quick, simple version that could be done on the stovetop in a few minutes. I took a small, thick-bottomed pot and added ½ C water and ½ C sugar. Turn the heat to medium and wait for the sugar to dissolve and then turn golden brown. I then added 1” cubes of pork shoulder to stop the sugar from browning any further.

After stirring for a moment I added about ¼ C finely chopped shallots, some garlic and green onions. Once the meat took on a nice color I hit it with some fish sauce (about 2 Tb) and then partially covered the pan (don’t let it boil or the meat will not be as tender) and cooked it a couple more minutes until the pork was golden, slightly crispy and draped in the sticky sauce I remembered. It literally made my mouth water. I garnished it with freshly chopped green onions and served. The normally tough pork was incredibly tender as if the caramelized sugar had encapsulated each piece in a mini pressure cooker. The sea-like saltiness of the fish sauce not only found perfect harmony with the slightly bittersweet caramel but also loosened the caramel up just enough to turn it into a silky sauce. The combination of roasted green onion and shallots in the sauce with fresh green onion on top created multiple layers of different onion favors. The whole dish took about ten minutes. I spoonful of rice and a cold beer and life is good. Enjoy!

Eat well, Enjoy life, Be happy!