Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Braised Pork

Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork
Mao Shi Hong Shao Rou
From the book Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop

Red-braised pork is a dish that in Hunan is inseparably bound up with the memory of Chairman Mao: many restaurants call it “The Mao Family’s red-braised pork.” Mao Zedong loved it, and insisted his Hunanese chefs cook it for him in Beijing. It’s a robust concoction, best eaten with plain steamed rice and simple stir-fried vegetables; the sweet, aromatic chunks of meat are irresistible.
In Shaoshan, Mao’s home village, cooks traditionally leave the skin intact for maximum succulence, and cut the meat into rather large chunks, perhaps 1 1/2 inches long; I tend to make the pieces a little smaller. This recipe takes its color from caramelized sugar, which gives it a lovely reddish gloss, but many people just use dark soy sauce at home.
When I make this dish I up the spices because I love flavour – I use 3 star anise, about 6 dried red chiles, a whole cinnamon stick & I also garnish it with fresh coriander which is not traditional but for me makes the dish complete.

1lb (500gms) pork belly (skin optional)
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
Fresh ginger (a ¾-inch piece), skin left on and sliced
1 star anise
2 dried red chiles
A small piece of cassia bark or a small cinnamon stick
Light soy sauce
Scallion greens

Plunge the pork belly into a pan of boiling water and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until partially cooked. Remove and, when cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized chunks.
Heat the oil and white sugar in a wok over a gentle flame until the sugar melts, then raise the heat and stir until the melted sugar turns a rich caramel brown. Add the pork and splash in the Shaoxing wine.
Add enough water to just cover the pork, along with the ginger, star anise, chiles, and cassia. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes.
Toward the end of the cooking time, turn up the heat to reduce the sauce, and season with soy sauce, salt, and a little sugar to taste. Add the scallion greens just before serving.

Serves 4

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Food News

Hello people – do yourselves a favour, grab a pencil & put this date in your diary ‘6:00pm 1st October 2009’. Why? I hear you ask, well, ‘Why Not’. Those legendary kings of the kitchen, brothers Che & Jules Devlin of ‘Figtree’ & ‘Why Not’ fame are putting on a Chilean Night.

It is a three course menu with matching wines @ $45-00pp, bookings are essential as seats are limited. The wines will be matched with the food by expert David Stevens-Castro from Wines of Chile. All of this set against a backdrop of Art by Freya & Music by Omar.

The menu for the night is not on the 'Why Not' website just yet but it looks something like this:-

On Arrival Pisco Sours & Light Canapes

Entrée Ceviche w/ Avocado Puree
Wine Santa Rita, Sauvignon Blanc ‘07

Main Slow Roasted Bangalow Sweet Pork, Sweet Potato Fondant, Corn Salsa
Wine Gestos, Malbec ‘07

Dessert Chocolate Fondant, Exotic Fruit Salad w/ Honey Sabayon
Cheese Local Washed Rind served w/ Grapes & Crackers
Wine De Martino,Carmenere ’05


When: 6:00pm 1st October 2009
Where: ‘Why Not’ - 18 Jonson St, Byron Bay
Cost: $45-00 per person
Phone: (02) 66807994
Web: http:/

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hello World - Lunch at La Cucina di Vino

I have been deliberating for far too long about how to start this blog. It is all too easy to procrastinate, so I have decided to bite the bullet & sit down with a cheeky glass of shiraz to write about lunch today.

My BFF (Best Friend Forever) & I had some business & shopping to attend to today in Ballina & when it was all done & dusted had a need to recharge our batteries.

Instead of seeking out the usual cafe & pub lunch options we decided to check out the ‘Ramada Hotel’ & were delighted to find ‘La Cucina di Vino – Ristorante Italiano’.

The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the hotel with indoor & outdoor seating options. As it was such a lovely warm spring day we decided to join the other diners outside on the terrace, which has lovely views of the Richmond river & a small but pretty marina.

The restaurant is fully licensed with a choice of an a la carte or a ‘Credit Crunch Lunch’ menu. We chose the latter menu, which offers four choices of dishes at $10-00 each under three different categories of Café, Pizza or Pasta. The added bonus of ordering from this menu is you can have a glass of house white or red for just $5-00. The white wine today was a 2007 Swings & Roundabouts Chardonnay & the red was a 2007 West Cape Howe Tempranillo.

We decided to share an appetiser of a Margarita pizza from the Pizza menu, my BFF had the Veal Parmigiano from the Café Menu, while I Had the Chilli Squid Linguine w/ sea salt & basil from the Pasta menu.

The pizza had a thin & crispy crust with just the right amount of topping. The veal was accompanied by fries w/ a rocket & parmesan salad, which my BFF declared to be delicious. My pasta had perfectly cooked pieces of squid with just the right chilli hit that leaves your tongue tingling but not burning.

All of this with a large bottle of San Pellegrino and a coffee came to the modest amount of $52-00. It was such great value that we have already decided to go back & try some of the other dishes on offer next week.

Note to self – Take a camera to take pictures of the food!


La Cucina di Vino
Ramada Hotel & Suites
2 Martin Street
Ballina NSW 2478
Ph: (02) 6618 1195
Lunch Wednesday to Sunday, also open for dinner