Asian Mash-Up: Indian Influenced Char Siu Pork with Baby Bok Choy

Indian Char siew

The piece de la resistance of the Spicebox Supperclub’s Asian Mash-Up was a brilliant fusion of Chinese and Indian flavors in Chef Nalin’s Indian Influenced Char Siu Pork.  Most of you have probably seen char siew hanging in the window of a Cantonese barbecue shop– bright red glistening planks of pork.  It’s a common starter at Chinese banquets and also often served, handily, in Chinese barbecue pork buns.

Wikipedia had this to say about char siu:

“Char siu” literally means “fork burn/roast” (char being fork (both noun and verb) and siu being burn/roast) after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire[citation needed].

In ancient times, wild boar and other available meats were used to make char siu. However, in modern times, the meat is typically a shoulder cut of domestic pork, seasoned with a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, hóngfǔrǔ (red fermented bean curd), lao chou (dark soy sauce, 老抽), hoisin sauce (海鮮醬), red food colouring (not a traditional ingredient but very common in today’s preparations and is optional) and sherry or rice wine (optional). These seasonings turn the exterior layer of the meat dark red, similar to the “smoke ring” of American barbecues. Maltose may be used to give char siu its characteristic shiny glaze.

Chef Nalin’s version added a few Indian spices: aamchoor (green mango powder), anardana (dried pomegranate seeds powder), cumin and garam masala, which added a wonderful depth to the otherwise sometimes cloying sweetness of the char siu.  He also omitted the red food coloring, which made his version perhaps less recognizable, but more appetizing (and less toxic!).  The Chef paired his expertly roasted char siu with a classic and light side, stir-fired baby bok choy, enlivened in true Spicebox Supperclub style with some heat.  It was delicious, or as one would say in Cantonese, 好食 hóusihk!

BBQ Pork Recipe (Char Siu/Char Siew/蜜汁叉烧) Indian Style

(Adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

Ingredients

1 lb pork roast (cut into pieces ½” thick), trim excess fat

3 clove garlic (finely chopped)

1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil

Char Siu Sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine

3 dashes white pepper powder

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon aamchoor

1 teaspoon anardana powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

Method

Add all ingredients in the char siu sauce in a sauce pan, heat it up and stir-well until all blended and become slightly thickened and sticky. (It will yield 1/2 cup char siu sauce.) Transfer out and let cool.

Marinate the pork butt pieces with 2/3 of the char siu sauce and the chopped garlic overnight. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil into the remaining char siu sauce. Keep in the fridge.

The next day, heat the oven to 375 degree F and roast the char siu for 15 minutes (shake off the excess char siu sauce before roasting). Slice the char siu into bite-size pieces, drizzle the remaining char siu sauce over and serve immediately with steamed white rice.

Need approximately 35 minutes with more sauce glazed at 20 minutes.

Wok Seared Baby Bok Choy with Chili Oil and Garlic

Spicy red chili oil delivers its pure bold flavor to a quick stir-fry of baby bok choy. Accented by nutty sesame seeds, assertive garlic and spicy red pepper flakes, this side dish perks up a midwinter meal.

Ingredients

1 Tbs. sesame seeds

4 heads baby bok choy, about 1 lb. total

1 1/2 Tbs. canola oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Sea salt, to taste

1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tsp. Asian chili oil

Directions

In a dry small fry pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Cut off the tough base from each head of bok choy. Separate the heads into individual stalks by snapping the stalks away from their cores.

In a wok or a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. When it is hot and shimmering in the pan, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, tossing and stirring constantly, until fragrant but not browned, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the bok choy and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing and stirring, until the bok choy just begins to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bok choy is just tender and the broth evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chili oil, stir well to coat the bok choy and remove from the heat.

Stir in the sesame seeds, transfer the bok choy to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4.

These recipes were part of the Asian Mash-Up menu, presented by Chef Nalin.

This is the final post from our inaugural meal.  Thank you for coming by!  Check back in a few weeks, when we have our next supperclub with new hosts, a new theme, new recipes and some new adventures!

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