Sometimes (okay, more often than not), my cooking is from inspiration (read no recipe). Recently I improvised two dishes inspired by other dishes. One somewhat conventional, the other one a bit weird (even by my standards). The thing is I thought both were really good.
I was browsing through this blog recently and saw two recipes here and here that got the wheels turning. I was going to make of riff on sukiyaki and pork tofu with whatever ingredients were at hand. I had a small piece of pork shoulder that I had sliced and marinated in Shao Xing wine, a container of doufu (medium texture), Sichuan pepper, and sugar (no salt, the Shao Xing wine has salt), dried shiitake mushrooms, Chinese black fungus, a carrot, ginger, no dried soybeans. Oh oh.
I found a package of raw peanuts in the back of the freezer, yes!
Soaked the shiitake mushrooms, black fungus, and peanuts in water (not together); quickly seared the sliced pork; added shiitake mushrooms, black fungus, and sliced ginger. Simmered for about half an hour; added dark soy sauce, sugar, peanuts, and carrots; simmered for about forty-five minutes more; added drained and cubed doufu; simmered for about ten minutes.
The doufu absorbed all of the flavors and the carrots gave a touch of sweetness to the dish. The pork was melt in your mouth tender. The peanuts turned out well too.
The Cat gave the dish four paws. The leftover was even better.
Warning: Those of you with queasy stomachs or sensitive gag reflexes may want to stop now (it’s okay, I understand).
As mentioned at the top of this post, the next dish was a little weird (even by my standards). But afterwards, I thought it kind of made sense (at least in my world).
I was watching a program on street food and it featured “bacon jam”. I had to find out more. The “bacon jam” comes from a “food truck” in the Seattle area. A deeper search gave me an idea of the basic ingredients: bacon, caramelized onions, and vinegar (I think it’s Balsamic).
I had none of the ingredients, sigh. The closest thing was a bottle of bacon pieces (the kind used to sprinkle on salads). However, as I was poking around a came across a can of baked beans with bacon (you’ll see the connection soon).
Before “bacon jam” parked itself on my brain, I was planning to eat natto for lunch. Bacon goes well with almost everything, and natto kind of has that sticky quality (okay not kind of really sticky).
So for lunch, a package of natto, some bottled bacon pieces, Kauai sea salt, Shichimi Togarashi, ground Sichuan pepper, and chopped chives (for color). This time around, no soy sauce (I didn’t want the natto to be too “watery”).
Think pork and beans with an Asian twist. I liked it, really (I know, I’m probably in the minority of one). The bottled bacon worked extremely well, no fat to interfere with the beans. A definite do again, maybe as a topping on a burger, the possibilities are endless.
I’ll stop now, The Cat is gagging.