Honey Rosemary Pork + 10 facts

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OK, digressing from my spiel, I think it’s good to inject a little bit of cheese into the blog. The Food and Wine Hedonist (and his other persona, Sir Mix-a-Lotta-Ingredients [did I get that right man? haha!] awarded me a ‘Kreativ Blogger’ badge, along with a few instructions. I don’t really pay attention to user-generated blog awards, but I might as well indulge it this time since, honestly, I can’t really say a lot about today’s recipe except to say that it’s incredibly delicious.

Since I accepted the award, here are 10 facts about me:

1. My name is Gio. Yeah, that’s a fact. I’m an only child, so I have issues (wink)

2. I used to be incredibly overweight growing up! ‘Used to’, because it was in college that I began losing weight. But it’s been a constant struggle ever since. Constant. Struggle.

3. I love pork fat. I love pork. You might find this disgusting but vivid childhood memories of me eating would mean requesting that my rice should be liberally drizzled with my ‘special sauce’ — COOKING OIL! (The oil used to fry the pork or bacon of course!).

4. My friends can vouch for this: I suck at math. Computing simple change, is my downfall.

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5. I blink more times than the average person.

6. I hate hate hate eating liver and other innards. I have this sudden urge to vomit when I do taste liver. To illustrate, I once walked out of a family dinner when they didn’t tell me that the dinuguan (blood stew) had liver and I accidentally had a spoonful of it.

7. When I’m pissed at someone, or when I have this sudden urge to stab/murder somebody but can’t, I snap my fingers.

8. I have a potty mouth. People have word crutches and default responses when they’re shocked, scared, happy, angry etc. Well, I cuss. And this bad mannerism also rears its ugly head during inappropriate occasions, like…during birthday parties when we’re about to pray.

9. If it’s not a dog, I’ll probably end up killing my ‘pet of the moment’.  First it was fish, and my teeny aquarium held more than the usual number. They didn’t survive. Next it was rabbits. I probably force-fed them to the point of obesity, and well, they lived a miserable life. Right now I have a two year-old dog, and she’s alive and well. (Praise!)

10. Since I told you that it’s a constant struggle to maintain my weight, I usually jog in the late afternoon. After a heavy meal for lunch. Then I’d have a heavy meal for dinner. Constant. Struggle.

So, there you have it. If you have any other questions you’d like me to answer, just leave a comment and if it’s not inappropriate, I might get back to you. 🙂
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On to the recipe: this was conceived the day before Mother’s Day, when I was daydreaming about baking pork until the fat caramelizes and becomes extremely rich and gooey. I can’t really say anything else. It was perfect. We loved it. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.
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Honey Rosemary Pork (serves 6 – 8)

2 kg pork (shoulder, belly or chops)

marinade for every 1 kg:

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼  cup honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Rosemary leaves from two 4-inch sprigs
  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the meat.
  2. Add the pork and ensure that each piece is evenly coated with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and let it marinate overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 220 C.
  4. Arrange the pork on a baking pan, preferably with a rack to let the fat drip. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes – 1 hour, turning halfway.
  5. When done, remove from the over and allow to rest for around 3 – 5 minutes. Slice into bite-sized serving pieces and serve with rice. Enjoy!
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Chinese-style Fried Pork (and about puff pastry)

Throughout this process of bringing out the “chef” in me I get caught up with a few minor setbacks along the way.

I’ve been juggling with the terms “snooty”, “pretentious” and “vapid” a lot lately. Just a few hours ago, I was at this new cafe that sat on top of the deli store that my mom and I frequent. This cafe serves their iced tea along with goblets and no ice. I mean, come on, who drinks iced tea from a goblet? I think it’s…unnecessary. And pretentious.

Well, I’ve called myself a snoot on some occasions. Like this afternoon, when I was plating my dish for the camera. Food styling is my frustration. I look at all these food magazines and page after page of pure awesomeness makes me feel so inferior as an amateur photographer. Sometimes I subscribe to this idea that a great food photo has all the bells and whistles. And sometimes the end product kills me.

What I’ve learned from food styling so far is that a dish looks better if colors just pop. So adding a pop of color I did. I cut some red and green bell peppers into rings and at the end I decided to just put in a red one, to keep it subtle. It doesn’t translate well on camera. I was a bit disappointed. OK, I was really disappointed.

I can’t really believe myself but I actually called my plating vapid and soulless.

But there’s another styling tip that I take for granted. The best way to bring out a food’s soul in the photo (YES I AM THAT PASSIONATE ABOUT FOOD!!!!!) is to keep it simple.

Puff Pastry, I’ve learned, loses its light flakiness when it’s overworked. When you knead and mix it to the point of death, it’s not puff pastry any more. That’s a good principle I can live by. There’s a fine line between perfect and too much. I’m heavy handed when it comes to my cooking – I season a lot, I over mix, I over plate, I over think everything. Man, I need to loosen up and pull it back a little.

With that being said, there’s nothing vapid with the taste of what I did. It’s basically fried five spice pork belly. I’m not really over Chinese Five Spice because it takes me back to the days of Peking Duck and this really great stew I made. The meat was tender and the subtle taste and aroma of the five spice was there. I didn’t really have to try too hard with this dish. It’s Chinese-inspired because it uses cornstarch and egg as the breading. No flour.

And if ever there’s a desperate cook out there, I don’t want to be that person. I want to be the person that makes great puff pastry.

Five Spice Fried Pork Belly with Honey Soy Sauce (serves 4 – 6) – adapted from yummy.ph

  • 1 kg pork belly
  • 2 tsp five spice powder
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 three-inch piece of ginger, grated finely.
  • 4 tbsp liquid seasoning (I used Knorr)
  • 4 tbsp gin
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • oil for deep frying

Honey Soy Sauce

  • 1/2 bulb of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 5 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
  1. Mix together pork belly and the rest of the seasonings. Marinate for at least two hours or overnight. When ready to cook, mix pork with beaten egg.
  2. Heat oil in a deep pan. Dredge pork in cornstarch and fry in hot oil. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.
  3. Make the sauce: Fry garlic in the oil until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, honey and the cornstarch slurry. Allow to reduce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve meat with a steaming cup of rice and drizzled with sauce. Enjoy!