Today, after rather an overdose of olive oil with the Spanish tapas this week, and the confits last, I am going back to the Antipodes for a burst of flavour and colour that owes nothing to the Mediterranean. This is a very fast way to turn some relatively plain pork shoulder into a zingy salad. It’s adapted from a Donna Hay recipe in Off the Shelf (her best book in my opinion) and, whereas she describes it as Thai, I think that the use of mint makes it more Vietnamese-inspired. Bit of a long shopping list but the shortness of the method hopefully compensates for that. You could serve some steamed rice or noodles too but I rather like its light starch-free-ness.
For two you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
¼ cup (45g) sugar
Light soy sauce, 30ml
Small red chilli
Small lump of fresh ginger, a fat thumbnail’s-worth (about a dessert spoon’s-worth once peeled and chopped)
Fish sauce, 1 tablespoon
Lime juice, 1 tablespoon (about half a lime)
1 whole star anise or ground star anise, ½ teaspoon
Boneless pork shoulder, cubed, or shoulder steaks, 300g
Salad leaves, 50g (green ones like watercress, spinach and rocket work well)
Spring onions, 2
Fresh mint, basil and coriander leaves, about 5g (a tablespoon or so) of each
1. Wash the salad leaves and herbs and leave on one side to drain. Top and tail the spring onions and, once the leaves are drained, mix the onions into them and divide the salad between two plates.
2. De-stalk (and de-seed if you like) the chilli, peel the ginger and chop both into small pieces. If using a whole star anise, bash it up into small bits with a pestle and mortar (it will still have largish bits but that doesn’t matter).
3. If using shoulder steaks, cube up the meat and cut out any overly fatty bits.
4. Put a largish frying pan over a medium heat and add the soy and fish sauces, chilli and ginger, sugar, lime juice and star anise. Leave to cook, stirring the mixture together every so often, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened (about 3-5 minutes).
5. Add the pork cubes to the frying pan and leave to cook for about 3 minutes, then turn them over to cook on the other side. Depending on their size, they shouldn’t take more than 7 or 8 minutes to be cooked through.
6. When the pork is done, lift it out with a slotted spoon and place on top of the salad.
7. Bubble the pan juices up a little to thicken a tad more, pour over the pork and salad and serve.