Sweet and sour pork is a popular Chinese preparation. This is a completely Japanese version that is not too sweet, starchy, or greasy. This is not a quick to make recipe: the meat and vegetables are marinated, deep-fried, and finally braised. The frying provides a pleasant crust to preserve the shape and flavor each piece of food in the sauce.
This is a beautiful summer meal. Shabu Shabu is a Japanese dish in which very thin slices of meat are cooked in simmering water at the dinner table by the diners. In winter it’s comforting to sit near a pot of boiling water, warming the hand holding your chopsticks to swish and cook your food. Not so fun when it’s hot and humid. This recipe is served chilled with peppers, papaya, beef and sesame sauce.
When you make ramen, there are many toppings you can add to make your bowl of noodles interesting. A popular item, menma (simmered bamboo shoots), is available in many stores (according to my book), or you can make your own.
In the next few posts, I will talk about how to prepare some of the most popular toppings for ramen. Chashu is made with pork flank, which is also called pork belly or side pork. This cut is often used to make bacon in the U.S. I purchased one piece from the meat department of my regular grocery store; it had thin layers of meat with thick bands of fat. I bought another piece from the freezer of an Asian grocery; it had more meat to fat ratio and has the ends of the rib(?) bones. Chashu can be frozen for later use so I’ve doubled the recipe here. The two cuts tasted and looked similar when cooked.
Peeling chestnuts is a tedious job, but Ms. Shimbo’s method of peeling chestnuts worked very well. And Ms. Shimbo is right that freshly peeled chestnuts are much more flavorful than the shelf-stable ones I used in the chestnut rice (in November). I boiled a medium pot of water, removed it from the heat, added the chestnuts, and left them to soak for 20 minutes. I took 2 or 3 chestnuts out at a time—and they are HOT—and tried to use a small knife to cut the peel. What actually worked very well was my Joyce Chen kitchen shears with the short pointed blades. As directed, I soaked the peeled chestnuts in cold water for 15 minutes, though I don’t know if that was necessary, and they were very good in the sauce.