Early in the week, my partner came home with 2 packets of fresh pork meat – pork scotch fillet and pork ribs, which he bought at the Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market (QVM). This market is becoming one of our favourite market since moving to Melbourne. There are two other markets we like, but frequent less – one at Footscray and the other at South Melbourne. I love wondering around the South Melbourne Market, which is much smaller but more fashionable. The crowds at each of the 3 markets are quite different due to its demographic of surrounding neighbourhoods. You will know what I mean if you have been to all 3 of them. Then there is the fourth one at Prahran, the Prahran Market – my least favourite because the things there are much more expensive. If you are looking for a good bargain among the four markets, then head to Footscray across the train station.
I came home from work and my partner asked me to cook the pork. That was great. He bought the pork, and I got to cook it! I told him that was fine. But, I was not sure what I was going to cook, after my strange experience at the tram stop to work that morning.
I was wearing my earphone listening to music. A man approached me. He was a big man. About six foot tall and stocky build with a dark, olive complexion. In his fifties probably. Dark dirty, scruffy hair. Probably hasn’t had a wash since yesterday and wearing a loose striped collared T-shirt with a loose track pants and track shoes. I was a bit surprised when he stood in front of me and asked if I can hear him, pointing towards my earphone. I removed my earphone, and he started rambling about how his mother had a stroke and dying, and that he needed $170 to get to Mildura! I was astonished and not sure what to think about the story. He then started to ramble louder and louder like a frantically big old child who had just lost his mum. He grabbed one of my hand and started kissing the top of my palm, and tried to put another hand on my forehead. Now, I was totally shocked! I told him that I didn’t have $170 in my pockets! Then, he went on and insisted on $100 or about that! Next thing, he dropped onto the ground and knelt and begged me even more!! By that time, I was really overtaken and overwhelmed by his story ad pulled out my wallet and gave him a $50. Was I a fool to do that? I really don’t know. But, a couple of hours later after I had absorbed what had really happened, I felt like a fool. But, I could only hope that his story was genuine and that I was really helping someone in need of getting to his dying mum. But, the more I thought about it, his story was completely remote and could not be true. He was a good performer and took me off guard. A colleague of mine suggested that he had just lost his money gambling at the Crown casino and in dire straits to win some back. That means, my $50 has gone into nothing good but to serve his desire to gamble and make a fool of someone like me.
I thought that was a good story to share before I let you know what I have done with the two types of pork my partner brought home.
Back in my kitchen, I searched my small pantry to see what I have got before deciding what to cook with the pork. I was thinking I could use one of the pork scotch for a stir fry, and the remaining and pork ribs as a braised dish cooked in coconut juice. Enough meal to last a few nights and a few lunch at work.
I started off by shredding some of the pork scotch by slicing thinly into tiny shrivel of pork pieces. Then marinated with a bit of light soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, sprinkle of salt and ground white pepper. Then covered in glad wrap and left in the fridge overnight.
The remaining pork scotch and pork ribs, I sliced into chunky pieces and marinated in a mixture of chopped garlic (3 cloves), spring onions (5 stems including roots and greens), star anise (2 pieces), fish sauce (2 tablespoons), light soy sauce (2 tablespoons), dark caramlised soy sauce (1 tablespoon). Then covered in glad wrap and left in the fridge overnight.
That was for 2 separate nights of cooking. The longer I keep the marinated pork ribs in the fridge, the better the flavour as the meat will absorb all the flavour from the sauce mixtures. But, please don’t keep for more than 2 nights. 🙂
I will start off the first night of pork cooking – a simple stir fry with vegetables and black ear fungus. The black ear fungus comes dry in a packet which can be bought at any Asian supermarket. You can either buy in whole pieces or broken pieces. I have the whole pieces, which need to be soaked in a bowl of cold water. They will expand into 2-3 times the size of a dried piece, and has a leathery feel.
Next I chopped 3 small carrots into tiny dice pieces, a handful of beans into 3 cm sections apart, 3 – 4 spring onions, 3 cloves garlic, 2 inches of ginger, and 4 pieces of dried shiitake mushrooms (pre-soaked).
The preparation time took less than 20 minutes. Now, I am ready to cook.
- Heat up a wok with 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil;
- Toss in the sliced pork pieces. Quick stir fry for 2-3 minutes, then dish out and set aside;
- Toss in the chopped garlic and ginger. Fry until fragrant, then toss in all the chopped vegetables – carrots, beans and mushrooms;
- Mix through all the ingredients and stir fry for 5 minutes before adding the pre-cooked pork pieces;
- Add 2 teaspoons light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and stir fry for another 5 minutes;
- Add the chopped spring onions, some dried shallots (if you have them in the cupboard) and a sprinkle of salt and sugar.
The dish is now ready to be served. You can either eat it with a bowl of steamed rice, or if you wish, toss in some cooked noodles and mix through in the wok. I decided to eat with noodles.
I cooked my second course of pork on the same night but left overnight before eating it. This next course is best done slowly and through a couple of days preparation. It is a simple dish to cook and requires very little effort. All it requires is marination, braise and slow cook in a pot for many hours. The end result is a stunning and tasty dish with the tender, moist and succulent full flavoured pork that is mouth watering good.
To cook the marinated pork:
- Halves 1 red onion, then cut into thin slices;
- Heat 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable cooking oil in a medium size pot;
- Toss in the sliced onions and fry for 1 minutes;
- Add the marinated pork and braised each pieces until brown;
- Add the sauce mixture from the marinated pork, 1 big can of coconut juice (or fresh coconut if you can get one), and some water just enough to almost cover all the pork.;
- Let it boiled for 2 minutes and skim off any scum floating on the top;
- Reduce the heat to simmer and let it cooked for several hours until the juice is reduced to almost a quarter.
This dish is best served with coconut rice and some sambal chili sauce.