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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pork and Tomatoes

Today (I meant to post this yesterday) was my mom's birthday, I had planned a different cook, but, decided I would cook one of my mom's favorite dishes. My mom was a very good cook and an adventurous eatr. Pork and Tomatoes was one of her dishes. This dish, as prepared by my mom represents a true fusion, one that was very common amongst the food we ate as I grew up. Wherein different foods and techniques found their way into our daily diet. The original recipe has changed a bit since we were kids, in particular to reduce the salt and sugar in the original.

Here are the ingredients, all nice and prepared. Mis en place baby!
 The Ingrdients:
1/2 large or one small/medium onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound thinly sliced pork sirloin
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and sectioned

The Reduction:
1/8 cup each Red Boat Fish Sauce and Bragg's Amino Acids
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Lucky Dog hot sauce
3 teaspoons Stevia/Erythriol blended sweetener

Stir fry onions and celery until translucent. Add the reduction sauce ingredients and the garlic, saute and reduce in pan until celery in melted, onions are cooked down and sauce is reduced by 50%.
The onions and celery will release moisture so this will take a little while. Once reduction is complete, remove vegetables with a slotted spoon or mesh ladle. Reserve reduction and add a small amount of oil, add in pork and stir fry until half cooked, note that the pork will also release fluids, which need to be reduced a it as well.
Return vegetables and reduction to pan and continue to reduce until liquid is nearly gone, add in peeled tomatoes and this forms the sauce for the entire dish. I prefer to use fresh tomatoes for this dish, although the color is better with canned tomatoes. I find the fresh tomatoes add more flavor. If I was making a large batch, I would add both canned and fresh. This is served over steamed rice.
The interesting part of this dish is that when I was a child, tomatoes were a particularly unusual element of cooking for the Japanese-American families, when we ate them, they were either fresh and raw, or cooked in American or Italian preparations. Very few dishes existed that used Asian flavors with tomatoes. The incfuence of the Italian and Portuguese families that populated the town near our home certainly influenced both the tomatoes and the 'sweet and sour' nature of this dish. Naturally, as time progressed, changes occurred.

As a part of my need to address some metabolic issues, I have started to abandon sugar as a sweetener, this dish had much more sugar and salt (in the form of shoyu) in the original dish. I have started to use fish sauce instead of making bonito broth and no longer use the fattier pork shoulder cuts my mom favored, as this allows for a shorter cooking time, mom would braise the pork for 3 hours. I miss the highly caramelized dish of my youth, but, this is my version of one of my mom's special dinners and it is very evocative of her flavors.

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