Monday, August 30, 2010

Hoisin Pork With Scallion Crepes

Sounds fancy, right? But the skills required to make this pseudo-Chinese dish are on a par with those involved in brushing pre-made barbecue sauce on meat and whipping up a batch of pancakes with Bisquick batter. Not that either of those ingredients are involved, mind you--I’m just saying if you can do those, you can make this.

To further assuage any pancake performance anxiety, this recipe is proportioned so that, for two people, you should have either (a) leftover crepes or (b) enough crepes even though you messed a few up and had to throw them out. Accepting that some things will end up in the garbage is a necessary prerequisite to kitchen experimenting. Nothing ventured, nothing eaten!

Start with three or four pork chops: Boneless is easiest since you’ll be slicing them after cooking, but those big, thin bone-in chops that have some darker meat on them would be good for flavor. Marinate them in about a quarter cup of hoisin sauce, which you can find in supermarkets and some bodegas; it keeps forever in the fridge and can be used as an insta-marinade for any meat.

(If you have some, you can add about ½ teaspoon of five-spice powder to your hoisin marinade. Do NOT go all, “Oh, I like really spicy food,” and dump in more, because five-spice powder is not about heat; it’s a pungent mix of stuff like anise and licorice and cinnamon, and if you add too much your meat is going to taste like a sachet from a dresser drawer. Even if you’re into that George Costanza eating-meat-in-bed-is-erotic thing, this will not taste good, trust.)

While your pork is marinating, make your batter in a mixing bowl, ideally one with a pour spout (that little notch on the side). Combine:

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg

  • Using a whisk (seriously, have you not bought one yet? What did I tell you? Fine, then use a fork), add 1 cup whole milk, pouring it in gradually as you whisk. (If you take it upon yourself to use lowfat, skim, soy, or whatever other freaky kind of milk you’re into, don’t blame me if it turns out wrong, you damn dirty hippie. If skim/low-fat milk is all you have in the fridge, try going a little shy of a cup and adding a tablespoon of cream or sour cream.)

    Then stir a small handful of chopped chives or a couple of chopped scallions into your batter.

    Now, your pork chops just need to cook for maybe 5 minutes on each side, if that, in a grill pan or cast-iron frying pan; then you let them rest, tented with foil, for a few minutes. Once you start your pork, heat some oil in a small saucepan—let’s say you put in a tablespoon or so, a little less if it’s nonstick—over medium heat. Once your crepes are done (see below), slice up your pork in thin strips.

    After the oil heats for a few minutes, pour in a drop of your crepe batter into the pan, using the spout if the bowl has it or a ladle if not. If the spot of batter starts to sizzle and get white and solid on the edges, your oil is hot enough. Use a flat spatula to get rid of the batter drop (eat it if you want) and pour about ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Holding it by the handle, circle the pan around on the burner so the batter covers the bottom evenly and comes up on the sides.

    When the sides start to curl back from the pan, it’s ready to flip. You can use the spatula, or try hoisting the pan up in the air if you want to be ballsy (like I said, the recipe allows for extra batter). You want these crepes to be soft so you can roll them around the filling, so err on the side of turning them sooner rather than later.

    Once the crepe is cooked on both sides (the outsides should just be set so they’re not runny), put it in foil in a toaster oven or oven set to just warm. They will keep cooking a bit here, so again, err on the side of taking them off the burner sooner.

    Add a little more oil to the pan (less than you initially did) and swish it around, then repeat the steps for making crepes until the batter is gone. Stack them in a pile in the foil in the toaster oven/oven as you make them.

    For company, you can serve this on a platter with the pancakes and a small bowl of the hoisin sauce (go easy—just dip the spoon in the bowl and run the back of it along the pancake).

    I like to serve this dish with steamed or sautéed baby bok choi, and maybe a cucumber salad in a rice-wine-vinegar dressing. For company or a family, you could accompany all this with brown rice; I suggest sautéing some chopped onion and pepper in a tablespoon of oil before you add the rice and cook it according to package directions. You could also throw a handful of frozen peas into the pot about 5 minutes before the rice is done.

    1 comment:

    1. i wanted to say "amen" to the idea that Hoisin sauce is great to have in the fridge. i use it in most dipping sauces that i make, it's a great condiment, and does really keep forever. which is actually kind of scary.