So last night my wife issued me a bit of a challenge… to cook dinner using nothing but what we have in the house (otherwise known as pantry & fridge in Chopped lingo, which is how we refer to it… lol) as well as a $10 shopping budget. Being that our “pantry & fridge” are pretty depleted at the moment, I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea. But hey, a challenge is a challenge! So I posted on Facebook about the gauntlet that was tossed at my feet and some people shot out some ideas, but it was two joking responses that struck me. My one buddy Chris said “Forget cooking, go buy Chinese!”, and then one of my female friends Cris (funny coincidence I guess) said something along the lines of “Sounds like it’s Ramen tonight!”. Those two comments really got me thinking, because if there is a continent that has learned to feed their families with minimal resources, it’s Asia! Much of what they make is with inexpensive, or easily grown, vegetables, as well as cuts of meat that are considered “undesirable” (or even meat from animals that actually are undesirable, but I won’t go there!). That’s why they rely so heavily on seasoning and sauces…
I think I got this!
I know that I have things in my home inventory like soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, sriracha, noodles… Ok, that’s a pretty decent base. So I head to the store, and first focus on my produce because I knew I was probably just going to buy the cheapest meat I could find and make due. So I grab some scallion (0.99), a navel orange (1.00), baby Portobello mushrooms (1.99), a small sweet onion (0.81) and a handful of green beans (0.95)… I also knew I needed some stock, so I grabbed a can of chicken stock (1.00). This leaves me with a whopping $3.26 to figure out my protein… Ouch! Looking through the meat section I’m finding that I might be seriously S.O.L., UNTIL, I notice what looks like a package of pork shoulder steaks hiding underneath some pork chops. I grab it out from the bottom of the pile and look at the price, $6.51… CRAP. But wait (said in a cheesy infomercial voice), it’s ON SALE for $1.99/lb, bringing it down to a wonderfully beautiful $3.21! So I have EVERYTHING I NEEDED, with a total bill of $9.95.
The most satisfying thing about this (to this point), is that my wife honestly didn’t think I was going to pull it off! It’s always a good time when you manage to surprise the person you’ve spent over 20 years with… haha.
So by now you guys are saying, “C’mon Derek, enough with the story, what’s the dish!?!?” So here it is…
Citrus, honey & sriracha glazed pork with Asian Noodles
My original dish was only for two people, but I’m increasing the recipe so it can serve four people…
2lb Pork Shoulder Steaks (sometimes simply referred to as Pork Steaks)
1c All Purpose Flour
2tsp Ground Black Pepper
2tsp Garlic Powder
1tbsp Olive Oil
1c Orange Juice (I used a fresh squeezed Navel orange, but you can use pulp-free orange juice as well)
1/2c Olive Oil
1/4c Lemon Juice
1tbsp Granulated Sugar
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flake
1tbsp White Sesame Seeds
1/2lb Spaghetti (or Soba noodles if you can get them)
1tbsp Sesame Oil (you can substitute olive oil if need be, but I like having that subtle sesame flavor)
8oz Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
8oz Fresh Green Beans, chopped on a bias
1 Large White Onion, sliced
3 Scallions, chopped on a bias
1c Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1/2c Chicken Stock
1tbsp Lemon Juice
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Garlic Powder
1tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flake
2tbsp Unsalted Butter
First thing’s first, let’s par cook the noodles. Whether you’re using soba noodles or spaghetti, boiled them in salted water for three minutes less than the instructions on the box require. Drain and put back in the pot, mix with the sesame oil until fully coated and then set aside at room temperature.
Now we can make our glaze. In a large bowl combine your orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, sriracha, honey, sugar, salt, black pepper and red pepper flake. Whisk vigorously until the ingredients have incorporated into a thick liquid, you should see no separation from the oil and other liquids. Set aside at room temperature.
Next you need to break down your pork shoulder steaks. It’s your call on how large you want the pieces, I cut my steaks into thirds to make for neater plating. The way the steaks are configured you should have a vein of fat running up to the middle that separates a layer of dark meat from the lighter pork. I cut out the dark meat as one piece, then cut the remaining lighter meat in half. In a medium bowl mix your flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Dredge the pork pieces in the flour mixture, shake off any excess and set to the side.
Heat your oven to 450F.
Put the 1tbsp of olive oil in a large sautee pan and bring up to high heat. Put your floured pork steaks in the pan, cook until lightly browned (about 3 minutes), flip and repeat. Remember, you don’t need to cook these through in the sautee pan because they’re also going in the oven with the glaze and can finish there. You’re just getting a light sear on the outside. Depending on the size of your sautee pan you’ll likely have to cook your pork in two batches. Set your cooked pork aside and allow to rest at room temperature.
While the pork is resting it’s time to start on the Asian noodles. Using the same sautee pan that you used for the pork, melt the butter at a high heat. Add your mushrooms and sautee until they start to brown, then add your onions and green beans. Cook until the green beans start to slightly char and the onions begin to caramelize, add your lemon juice and soy sauce. Reduce at a high heat for two minutes, stirring regularly, then add your chicken stock, black pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flake. Cook on high for two minutes, stirring regularly, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer.
While the noodles are simmering… Dredge your rested pork in the glaze and place in a 9″x13″ baking pan. If there is any glaze left over pour it over the meat in the pan. Sprinkle the pork with the sesame seeds. Put in the oven for 10 minutes to allow the glaze to slightly caramelize and stick to the pork. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for two minutes at room temperate to let the glaze cool and thicken. Plate your noodles in a nest with the pork alongside, then garnish the noodles with the chopped scallion.
Now let’s talk wine pairings. Believe it or not, Asian food is best with slightly, or overtly, sweet wines. Wines like Riesling, Gewurztraminer or more floral Sakes are perfect to be the counter balance to this salty, spicy cuisine. So here are my recommendations…
Trapet Gewurztraminer Beblenheim, Alsace, FR – Domaine Trapet was established in 1870 in Gevrey-Chambertin, and over the past century plus have proven themselves to be one of the top producers in this prestigious appellation. In 1993 the newest Trapet generation took over, under the guidance of Jean-Louis Trapet, and he seamlessly continued on with the family’s impeccable reputation. While Jean-Louis’s family had holdings in Burgundy, his wife’s family owned vineyards in Alsace and he decided it would be interesting to produce some wines from their vineyards as a fun little side project. So here we have the Gewurztraminer from their holdings in the Beblenheim Vineyard. I would rate the wine as a demi-sec (semi-dry), while there is residual sugar there is still a nice balancing acidity. On the palate you’ll find notes of lychee, mango and meyer lemon, with very subtle minerality in the mid-palate and finish. This one will likely be difficult to find with only 400 cases made per vintage, but it’s worth the search! (Retail $18-22)
J.J. Prum Riesling Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, GER – J.J. Prum is one of the top Riesling producers of Germany. Many of their wines are relatively expensive, but their entry level Kabinett drinks like it’s $40, but costs around $20. Medium bodied, the wine exhibits notes of overripe papaya, lime, and vanilla, with a subtle hints of granite and spicy smoke. Throughout the palate a mild acidity help cut through the richness of the wine. With nearly 6,000 cases of this wine produced it’s a bit easier to find than most of my recommendations. You can drink this early, or even lay it down for up to 30 years. (Retail $18-23)
Fukucho “Moon on Water” Junmai Ginjo Sake, Hiroshima, JAP – So Sake is a relatively new passion of mine, don’t be surprised to see it pop up from time to time. Believe it or not, Sake is NOT ideal for Japanese sushi as everyone things, but is much better for cuisines like Chinese or Thai. Fukucho is brewed by Imada Shuzo, who founded their brewery in 1868. On the palate the wine is slightly sweet, with distinct notes of cantaloupe, lime and most especially fennel. It has a crisp clean mid-palate and lingering finish where the fennel notes continue to shine. While production isn’t overly large, it’s also not entirely difficult to find in major markets. Available in both 300ml and 720ml. (Retail 300ml $18-22, Retail 720ml $37-45)
So that’s my thrown together wife challenge dish along with wine pairings, take it or leave it. Although I will say, it turned out pretty great! I know that my lovely, diabolical wife wished there was more to be had.
So, as always, new posts coming soon! In the meantime, crack open a bottle of something kinda cool, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!