Char Siu – The Chinese BBQ Pork

So look… before you start judging me for not creating my own char siu marinade from scratch, try my shortcut recipe/method… seriously, you will be pleasantly surprised!  In other words… don’t knock it ’til you try it!

Char siu pork is a classic Chinese dish and one of my all-time favorite.  Combine it with some steamed rice and freshly sliced cucumbers with some chili peppers and soy sauce… mmmm… that’s a good meal right there.  The Sam Woo on Garvey and Atlantic in Monterey Park makes made the best barbeque pork, in my opinion.

My mom taught me this method and I, of course, changed a few things… I have been making a habit of measuring for the sake of this blog so let’s hope it’s accurate ;)

I prepared double the amount I have here and froze half of it for a quick weekday meal so don’t pay attention to the multiple packets of mix in the photo.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of pork shoulder butt roast
  • 1 packet of char siu seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons of Maggi seasoning sauce or regular soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 can of coconut-flavored soda
  • 2 cups of beef stock

Preparation Instructions:

Prep the pork by rinsing in a colander and letting it drain completely.  Pat dry with a paper towel and trim out any excess fat.  Cut into big pieces (about 4″x3″) and set into mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the char siu seasoning mix with half a cup of water and the Maggi/soy sauce.  Mix well making sure it’s completely dissolved and pour into the pork bowl.  Massage the pieces well, coating every part of those chunks.  Cover the bowl or place into a large zip lock bag and refrigerate overnight.  If you don’t have time to marinade overnight, let it sit for at least an hour.  The more time it sits in that delicious red goodness, obviously, the better!

When you’re ready to cook, take it out of the fridge and let it sit until it reaches room temperature.  Heat up the oil in a deep pan and slowly add the chunks (not crowding the pan).  Sear all sides but be careful not to burn them.  When all the pieces have been seared, place them all back in the pan (if you’ve fried in batches) and add the coconut soda and beef stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover lid and let simmer for about an hour and a half… two if you can afford to.  Turn once in a while to make sure all pieces are cooked evenly and coated with the red yummy caramel.  About an hour in, add the remaining cup of water and stir.  On the last 20 minutes, keep it on low heat.  Once it’s done, let it sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.  Serve with steamed rice!

Oh goodness… I can’t wait for you to try it!!

Taco Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 pack of taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can of refried beans
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup of finely shredded four cheese Mexican

Garnish:

  • sliced pickled jalapenos
  • sliced black olives (alternative to jalapenos if you’re not into spicy foods)

Preparation Instructions:

Heat up the olive oil in a deep frying pan and add the ground beef.  Cook and break apart until it’s all brown.  Remove from stove, pour into colander over sink to drain out all the liquid.  Pour back into the pan and onto stove over medium heat.  Add one tablespoon of butter, stir, and then add one packet of taco seasoning mix.  Add refried beans and water to the ground beef and stir well.  Cook on low heat for about 8-10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

While that’s cooking, cut out the tortillas into (3 from each tortilla) mini tortillas (about 3 inches in diameter) to fit your pan.  I didn’t have cupcake pans on hand so I used my whoopie pie pan.  I used a sugar container lid as a template and cut around with a sharp-tipped knife but if you have a cookie cutter, that’s ideal.  We just moved in so we’re still working on adding on to our kitchen inventory.

Turn off the stove and set the pan aside to cool slightly. Brush pan with melted butter and place mini tortillas into slots.  Scoop in a spoonful of the delicious bean and beef mixture onto each tortilla and sprinkle with cheese.  Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.  Plate, garnish, and serve!

 

Mexican Rice

I’ve always used Mahatna long-grain for these types of spiced-rice dishes but they can be a bit tricky.  This time, I used Uncle Ben’s and every grain was cooked perfectly.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of Uncle Ben’s white long grain rice
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 10 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of tomato chicken bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro, finely chopped

Garnish:

  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • 2 wedges of lime

 

Preparation Instructions:

Heat up a pot on medium heat with olive oil and add the chopped garlic.  Cook for a few minutes until it’s golden and aromatic.  Add chicken broth, tomato chicken bouillon, and tomato paste, and mix well.  Pour in the rice, add butter and stir well bringing it to a boil.  Lower heat and let it simmer covered for 20 minutes.  After about 5 minutes, add in finely chopped cilantro and stir.  Close lid and let simmer for the rest of the time.  When it’s done, let it sit for about 5-7 minutes before uncovering.  Open lid, squeeze in juice of two small wedges of lime and stir well.  Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!

Tender and Crispy Carnitas

We love carnitas!  If we’re at a restaurant and it’s on the menu, we’ll order it.  Our favorite is from Lares in Santa Monica but it’s always such a trek getting out there.  I don’t know what it was about today that gave me this surge of ambition but I thought I’d tackle this great Mexican pork.  I have to say, I was nervous.  I didn’t follow a single recipe.  My estimates below are a little rough but should be close to what I used.  They were just heavenly!  Even my little picky eater gorged on these.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of pork shoulder – cut into 2-3 inch cubes, removing any big chunks of fat
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 can of beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 2 oranges, one for juicing and the other cut into wedges
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and loosely chopped
Garnishes:
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Sliced avocado
  • Lime wedges

Preparation Instructions

Drizzle about one tablespoon of olive oil over the pork cubes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I refrigerated the pork over night but you can do this just a few hours before cooking.  Remove pork from fridge and let sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat up a pan using the rest of the olive oil and brown cubes of pork on all sides.  Be sure not to crowd the pan or it will have more of a steaming effect.  Once that’s done, lay out all the pieces in a baking pan and add orange wedges.  Using the same frying pan on medium heat, add the beef stock, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, brown sugar, squeezed oranged juice, and garlic.  Mix well and let simmer for about 8-10 minutes, then pour all over the chunks of meat submerging them 3/4 of the way.  Cover with foil and bake for an hour, then uncover and bake for another hour.

Most people cook the entire shoulder in one piece but I cut them into smaller cubes so you can get crispiness with every bite!

Once the carnitas have simmered to oblivion, remove them with tongs and lay them on a cookie sheet.  Pop them back in the oven on 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Remove, let them sit and settle in their new form of goodness for 20 minutes.  Shred with two forks and enjoy over some grilled tortillas with onions, cilantro, lime, and hot sauce.  Mmmmm.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’m easing back in after a two-year-plus hiatus with a staple Mexican comfort food, chicken tortilla soup.  The Matador is feeling a little under the weather and asked for some hot and hearty soup.  I got the recipe from the Pioneer Woman and adapted it with a few minor changes.  I increased, substituted, and added ingredients based on what I had available in my pantry and to give it a little more of a kick.

I have to confess.  I got a little lazy keeping up with posts because it just got so time-consuming.  With two kids and a full-time job, busting out my big honkin’ DSLR for every step to then processing the RAW images became too much work.  I’m now just shooting with either my iPhone or my little point-and-shoot.  Still does the job.

Ingredients:
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans of tomato and jalapeno salsa
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 42 ounces, fluid sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato bouillon with chicken
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 2 cans (15 oz. can) black beans, drained
  • 3 tablespoons of Masa
  • 5 whole corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 2 ears of corn – stripped
Garnishes:
  • Sour cream (if that’s your thing)
  • Diced avocado
  • Diced red onion
  • Grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Cilantro

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, and then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.

Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and garlic – I forgot the garlic this time but it was still very delicious. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

Pour in tomato and jalapeno salsa, chicken stock, tomato sauce, 2 cup of water, black beans, and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Mix masa with about a cup of water and blend well. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.  I like to add the strips directly to the bowls as I serve so if you have any leftovers, it won’t get soggy.

Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream (if that’s your thing), diced red onion, diced avocado, grated cheese, and chopped cilantro. Mmm…. delicious!