Spicy Honey Sesame Anise Pork
Till a week back, I had never cooked pork. Not because I have issues with pig meat, hell no! But because it's generally difficult to procure hygienic pork in Calcutta. And then two things happened to me. I discovered this plush little meat shop in our locality which sold crystal clean pork and I participated in a food festival that a friend cum kid sister arranged. And these two things changed the way I looked at pork.
Now Cookie (the aforementioned kid sister) is a huge lover of pork. She completely dotes on this one particular pork dish from a south Calcutta restaurant and she wanted me to recreate it for the food festival. I was a bit apprehensive from the beginning. Finicky Bongs would smirk at pork at the first opportunity, and comments like "No chuck it, it's too hot to have fiery red meat" would religiously follow suit. I bargained with Cookie to get the pork replaced by chicken...poultry was, after all, much more "safe"! She was cool with it, but insisted that I made a few plates at least because many of her friends had already pre-ordered for the dish. I gave in to her request, and trust me, that was one of the best things I did in a long, long time.
Lean pork (boneless), shredded or diced: 1 kilogram
Onions, diced: 2 big
Capsicum, cut into strips: 2 medium
Garlic, minced: 1 1/2 tsp
Tomato ketchup: 5-6 tbsp
Honey: 5 tbsp
Chilli garlic sauce: 3-4 tsp
Vinegar: 3tsp + for pressure cooking
Soy sauce: 3 tsp
Dry red chillis (I use the big fat ones): 5-6 (or less if you want it less hot)
Star anise, powdered: 6-7
Sesame seeds: 2-3 tbsp
Oil: 2 tbsp
Salt: to taste
1. Pressure cook the pork with some salt and vinegar till one whistle. Check for softness. If you think it needs to be cooked further wait for another whistle. Set aside and DON'T discard the stock.
2. In a non-stick wok, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook till translucent. Add the capsicum and cook covered on medium heat.
3. When both the onions and capsicum soften a bit, add the dry red chillies and star anise powder and mix.
4. Now add the ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, chilli garlic sauce and mix thoroughly.
5. Add the pork and coat the pieces with the sauce. If it gets too dry use a couple of tbsp of the stock you set aside. Add salt, mix, taste and do a bit of permutation combination based on your palette. Add a little bit more of the chilli garlic sauce for fire, a bit of honey for sweetness or vinegar for the tang.
6. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or till the pork is almost dry with just a little amount of gravy sticking to it.
7. Sprinkle sesame seeds, give it a final stir and take off the heat.
8. Garnish with some additional sesame seeds and serve with rice/ noodles or just by itself as starter.
PS: This dish is so good, that it temporarily made me forget last night's baking tray tragedy. :P