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Pork Shiso Parcels

2 Jun

Shiso or Perilla is a fragrant leafy herb commonly grown in East Asia and is used particularly in Japanese and Korean cooking. The leaves are large and make a wonderful material to use as a wrapping for delicate meats or vegetables. These are stuffed with a pork and rice mixture seasoned with Asian flavours of ginger, garlic, sesame and soy but you could use tofu as a vegetarian version.Pork wrapped in Shiso Leaves

Shiso LeavesIMGP1217


  • minced pork
  • cooked rice
  • egg
  • crushed garlic
  • grated ginger
  • green onion or chinese chives
  • a dash each of: sesame oil, soy sauce and fish sauce (optional).

Mix 2 parts pork to 1 part rice with a hint of garlic, ginger and green onion, add the wet ingredients and mix really well. Add a little beaten egg to bind. Take large shiso leaves one at a time, lay on a board with the pointed end away from you . Lay a small spoonful of mixture about 1/3 of the way in the thick part of the leaf. Fold in the sides then once over from the front then flip over onto the pointed end. Cook by frying in an oiled skillet or brush with oil and grill. They can also be cooked over a fire or barbecue.

Serve with a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce and rice vinegar, add a hint of chilli if you want some heat.

Garden Note   Perilla frutescens var crispa  A Tender Self-Seeding leafy herb also known as Shiso or beefsteak plant.  Perilla is a member of the Lamiaceae family, which includes many strong aromatic herbs including; mint, basil, rosemary, lavender, Melissa, marjoram and sage. This tender bushy herb is grown for its aromatic leaves, flower buds and seeds. Used extensively in East Asia as a vegetable and as a herb, most famously the red variety is used to colour pickled ginger. It makes a great addition to a kitchen or herb garden and when the leaves are large enough great as a wrapping for grilled or deep-fried foods.


Chorizo & White Bean Stew

18 Nov

This is Rachel’s dads’ favourite dish, the one he cooks for himself when he is left to his own devices in the kitchen and I can understand why, it is so easy and so delicious. He usually makes it with a jar of white beans, cooking chorizo and tomato passata. It is a Spanish store cupboard classic, great for camping or cooking on the hoof.

Serves 2-4 (as a starter or main)

  • 4 cooking chorizo
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Large jar white beans or freshly boiled butter beans 
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 250g passata (home made tomato puree) 
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

Slice the sausages and fry in a good slug of fruity olive oil until starting to crisp around the edges, add the garlic and when the aroma rises add the paprika, tomato paste and cooked white beans. Cook for 10 minutes more until the sauce is all glossy and the flavours have infused. Sprinkle with bright green chopped parsley and serve in individual bowls to be mopped up with bread, or as one of a number of Tapas dishes.
Variation An equally good variation is to use potatoes instead of white beans to make another great Spanish dish add a few green peppers and cook until the potatoes are done.

Pork Curry (Vindaloo)

11 Nov

This is one of my favourite meat curries, pungent with mustard oil, hot with chillies and sour with tamarind and vinegar and finally a hint of sweet nutty coconut. It is a remarkably quick and easy to make and really worth trying.  Serve with rice, a yogurt dish and a light vegetable dish or dal.

  • 6 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp vindaloo masala powder see Indian Spice Mix Recipes
  • 2-3 tsp vinegar
  • 450g pork, boned and cubed
  • 2 or more green chillis, thinly sliced
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp tamarind concentrate (depending on concentrate)
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut or desiccated

Heat the mustard oil until it starts to smoke then throw in the onion and garlic fry until turning a pale golden colour then add the vindaloo masala powder. Fry and sprinkle with the vinegar. Add the pork and stir well to coat in spices and seal. Add the water and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the salt, tamarind and half the coconut, cook for another 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated then serve on a bed of rice sprinkled with the rest of the coconut or fresh coriander leaves.
Source This recipe is one of my old favourites which I think originally came from an Indian cookery book from the late 70’s. I no longer have the original recipe book so I don’t know how far I have veered from the original but this is one quick and tasty curry.

Cook’s Tip I make up a blend of the Vindaloo spice mixture ready ground in an airtight jar which stays fresh for up to 3 months making this even quicker and easier to prepare. Freeze freshly grated coconut  in small usable batches.

Pork & Long Bean Stir fry

23 Sep

This fragrant and spicy stir fry enhances the taste and texture of vegetables fresh from the garden. Variations of meat stir fried with long beans are found all over east Asia. This is my version using the best of our autumn garden produce; long beans, red peppers, chilli and Thai basil are stir fried with pork but you could easily leave out the meat.
Serves 2 Cook & Prep 20mins.

  • 1 pork chop, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Peanut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 200g french beans
  • 1-2 medium heat red peppers
  • 1 hot red chilli or 3 mild chillis
  • Large handful Thai basil (30-40 leaves)


  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cut the pork chops into thin slices removing any bone. Put the slices in a bowl sprinkle with 2tsp of sesame oil and the cornflour and mix well, set aside while the rest of the ingredients are prepared.

Wash and trim the beans and cut into bite size lengths, chop the red peppers into small squares or strips, peel and chop the garlic, slice the chilli in half remove seeds and chop finely, pick the basil leaves from the stalks.

In a bowl mix together the sauce ingredients with the remaining 2 tsp of sesame oil and 4 tbsp of water.

Heat a large non stick pan or wok, add the peanut oil and just as it starts to smoke add the garlic, stir once. Add the pork and stir fry over a high heat until it is sealed and starting to brown. Add the peppers, basil, chilli and beans and continue stir frying for another minute. Pour in the sauce and cook for a further minute or two until the beans are bright green and cooked but still crisp. Serve with long grain white rice.

Variations: use mint instead of Thai basil. Add some sliced mushroom

Cooks TIP 1. Stir frying is a fast and furious business and it is essential that all the ingredients are prepared ready to just throw into the pan in their turn. 2. Coating the meat in corn flour before frying and simmering gives it protection so that it will remain soft and succulent. It will also help thicken the sauce slightly.

Pork & Cucumber Curry

15 Jul

This is by far and away the best curry I have ever made and it was born out of necessity. A few cucumbers were hidden away under foliage and I hadn’t spotted them until they had grown enormous and too bitter to eat raw. In India bitter gourds are a speciality so I looked to Madhur Jaffrey for inspiration and found a recipe for bottle gourd and prawn curry which inspired the spice combination in this dish although the technique and other ingredients are quite different.
Serves 2-4 Prep 15min Cook 10min

  • 250g pork, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3-4 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 2 green chillis
  • 1 red shallot or onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3cm cube of ginger
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1-2 dried cayenne chilli, sliced
  • 250g yogurt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 250g bitter cucumber peeled de-seed and cut into batons
  • handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Dust the pork with the salt, pepper and turmeric and set aside. Heat a wide pan or wok, add the oil and when hot add the pieces of pork. Fry stirring occasionally while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. De-seed and chop the green pepper and chillis, add to the pan and stir. Peel and slice the shallot, add to the pan and stir. Peel and slice the garlic and grate the ginger, add to the pan and stir. Roughly grind the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and throw those in along with the cayenne chilli, give everything a good stir and fry until aromatic. This first stage should take about 15minutes. Lower the heat and stir in the yogurt, sugar and cucumber, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the coriander and serve on a bed of plain basmatti rice.

Spaghetti: Tomato & Bacon

2 Jul

A simple tasty pasta dish with fresh summer tomatoes, herbs and fried bacon. I prefer it with spaghetti but you can use any pasta.

Serves 2
* 250g Spaghetti
* 2-3 tbsp olive oil
* 150g cured bacon cubed
* 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
* salt & pepper
* 250g fresh tomato paste
* 8 tbsp fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, marjoram or parsley.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water until ‘al dente’, drain, drizzle with a little olive oil and set aside. Put the rest of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the bacon and fry until starting to brown, add the garlic then the tomato paste. Check seasoning and cook for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the herbs and pour the sauce over the pasta, tossing well to coat then serve.

This recipe was originally posted on on 2/7/2007.

Spicy Pork Skewers (Pinchos Morunos)

2 Jun

These tasty grilled morsels, Pinchos Morunos or Moorish sticks can be served as a tapas, as they are in Spain, or skewered with vegetables to take centre stage. The meat is first marinaded in a mix of pounded spices and herbs that owe their influence to the Moors of North Africa, who settled in Andalusia. I like the meat heavily spiced so I have a heavy handed approach to the marinade, just use less spice on the meat if you want a more restrained version or try one of the many variations I’ve given here. Pinchos Morunos is a popular tapas and there are probably as many recipes for the marinade as there are tapas bars. This is my favourite version along with a few others I like.

Image: Spiced pork threaded on skewers with vegetables ready to cook.

Serves 4 as a main or 8 as a tapas

  • 500g Pork fillet
  • 1-2 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1-2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 dried cayenne chilli, seeds removed
  • 3 all spice berries
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper corns
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • Onions and peppers, tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp green herbs coriander or parsley leaves, finely chopped

Cut the meat into fairly small flat pieces and put into a bowl with the paprika, green herbs, if using, and oil. Grind the remaining dry spices and bay leaves and add those to the bowl. Stir well to make sure all the pieces are well coated then cover and leave to marinade overnight. Thread the morsels onto bamboo or metal skewers, making sure the meat is well spaced, so that it will cook quickly and evenly, between onions and peppers. For the best flavour these skewers should be cook over hot coals, a woodfire or on a barbecue. They can also be cooked on a plancha or under a hot grill.

The basic marinade ingredients for Pinchos Morunos are Spanish paprika, garlic, pepper to which can be added any combination of the following; onion, bay leaves, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, coriander (seed or leaf), fennel, parsley fresh, saffron, all spice berries, oregano, thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice.

The variations below are for a marinade for about 500g of pork.

source Spanish Fiestas
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp paprika
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Traditional Spanish
source Cuisine From Spain
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil

Simple Spanish
Source I’ve seen several references to simply marinading the meat in paprika you could go simpler still.
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Source This is the recipe given in Moro The Cookbook, this was my original starting point when I first made Pinchos Morunos.
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
2 cloves garlic
pinch saffron (dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water)
1/2 small bunch fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
1 bay leaf, chopped
1 dessert spoon red wine vinegar
1 dessertspoon olive oil

Garlic, Lemon & Thyme
Source I made this one up because I like the combination of lemon & thyme and I think it works with pork or chicken
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp dried rubbed thyme
grated lemon peel
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil

Hot Pepper
Source This is our household staple, we use it on roast potatoes, chicken almost anything really
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1-2 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp hot Spanish paprika
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil


Broad Beans & Ham (Ronda)

30 May

This is one of those dishes I could eat everyday. This is my version of the tapas dish habas con jamon I ate in Ronda, Andalusia, served everywhere, much to my delight. In spring when the broad beans are in season this is a great recipe, very simple, tasty and versatile. It can be eaten hot or cold as a salad or side dish.
Serves 2 Prep 3 Cooking 10

  • 250g shelled fresh broad beans
  • 1 white onions or 2 spring onions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • slosh of olive oil
  • cured ham, preferably Spanish Serrano
  • summer savory leaves (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Shell the beans, remove the skins if you really want to, I leave them on, but it does look prettier with the grey skins removed to reveal the bright green beans. Peel and slice the onions, young green onions in spring. Peel and slice the garlic and chop the ham into small matchsticks. Heat a large pan, add the oil and when hot add the onions and garlic. Saute until soft then add the ham, fry for a few minutes before adding the beans. Season with salt, pepper and chopped savory. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, 5 minutes or so. Serve with fresh bread or as part of a tapas meal.

Cook’s TIP You can use frozen broad beans which are a good substitute to make this dish at any time of year. You can use any ham, in Spain the ham used is serrano, a salt cured raw ham but I have had good results using the French jambon cru, pancetta and even sausage, so long as it has a strong flavour is salty and uncooked it should turn out fine.

Gardener’s Note Summer savory is a peppery pungent herb used in the preparation of salami and sausages, you don’t need much of it i only grow a few potfuls each year. Sow in pots undercover in February or in March-April. It is a natural companion for beans as it improves the flavour of all beans and pulses and aids digestion.

Pad Thai

21 May

Pad Thai is probably the best known Thai noodle dish, and rightly so. The flavourings are a special blend of sour tamarind, sweet palm sugar, salty fish sauce or shrimp paste, garlic, chilli, shallots or spring onions, roast ground peanuts and preserved vegetables. To which all kinds of vegetables can be added including all forms or oriental leaves, beansprouts, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, mangetout along with any combination of protein such as tofu, chicken, pork, dried shrimp or prawns. This version uses pork and dried prawns, home made salted radish preserve, beansprouts, pak choi and garlic chives.
Serves 2 large portions or 4 regular portions

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimps
  • 1 pork chop, cut off the bone and finely sliced.
  • 1-2 tbsp salted turnip or radish
  • 200g medium or large dried flat rice noodles
  • 2 red hot chillis, finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls of pak choi (or other vegetables)
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, roasted and crushed
  • small bunch of garlic chives, chopped
  • 2 handfuls bean sprouts
  • Garnish with any combination of: crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, cucumber match sticks, grated carrots or lime wedges

Pad-Thai Sauce (4 tbsp)

  • 1 tsp tamarind concentrate (or juice of half a lime)
  • 1/4 cake palm sugar or 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 ladle of hot water
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce

As with any stir fried dish it is best to prepare all the ingredients in advance as the cooking process should be quick fire. When everything is in place the cooking is very simple.

Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside. Soak the noodles in cold water for 10 minutes, or cook as directed on the packet, drain and set aside. Prepare all the other ingredients ready to hand.

Heat the oil in a wok, add the garlic and dried shrimps stir-fry until fragrant. Add the pork and stir until the meat starts to colour. Then add the onion, chilli , pak choi and fry for 1 minute or so then add the salted radish and noodles, stir well and pour in the sauce, keep stirring until everything is well mixed. The noodles should be soft, if they are not add a little cold water and stir again.

Finally add the peanuts, garlic chives, and bean sprouts, toss and serve topped with your choice of garnish.

Variation Some recipes have an egg or two stirred into the mixture towards the end of cooking, but i prefer it without the egg.

Cooks Note Preserved turnip/radish can be bought in oriental shops but you can easily make your own Salted Radish Preserves

Pork Spare Ribs

3 Apr

I’ve always called these things spare ribs, my mum used to cook them a lot when I was a kid because they were cheap meat cuts and I loved them. These ones are done Chinese style, marinated in Chinese five-spices, hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and soy sauce then cooked until the fat renders out and the ribs are crisp outside and succulent inside. A real treat. Serve as an appetizer or on rice with Asian greens on the side.

  • Pork Ribs
  • crushed garlic 
  • grated ginger
  • hoisin sauce 
  • soy sauce
  • pinch Chinese 5 spice powder
  • pure sesame oil a few drops to tatse

Mix the marinade ingredients together and rub over the pork ribs. Set aside to marinade, over night for best results or for 4 hours. Lay the ribs in a single layer, I cook them on a wire rack with a tray below, then bake in a hot oven for about 30 minutes or until the outside starts to crisp and burn but the flesh is still succulent.

Cooks Note Hoisin sauce is a thick, slightly sweet smooth chinese bean sauce.