I’ve been keeping this one to myself. Largely because there isn’t a huge need for Thermomix activity. But it is so good, as I was reminded by cooking it today, that I need to rave about it for a bit.
I discovered the recipe when following the Momofuku opening in Sydney. No, I have not been to the restaurant, but as with many other foodie obsessions (The Fat Duck, elBulli, even the geographically attainable – Movida, Rockpool, Quay) though denied the lived experience of eating at my place of worship, I stalk the food through online recipes, write ups, TV shows and cookbooks.
This appealed for many reasons. Pork is a reason alone. The simplicity of preparation, though requiring time, also hugely appealing. Also, the temptation of attempting new things – kimchi and pickled watermelon rind. And as a dinner party meal it can be expanded at the last minute to feed extras, while still being very impressive.
Momofuku suggests using a shoulder of pork – skin off. If it comes with skin, cut away, leaving all the fat and use skin to make delicious crackling as a side or as a secret indulgence when you are finally alone again. I love the pork I get at our market butcher – the Stockman’s Choice at Kelvin Grove Markets. You get to bask in wonderful Scottish accents while buying the most flavoursome, succulent pork I have ever had. The cut they have is a porterhouse. Don’t assume I actually know about cuts of meat, but this works very well.
Choose a close fitting oven dish for your piece of pork. A lot of liquid eventuates, so high sides is a good idea. A dish that can go from oven to table will also save time and washing up. A little olive oil (or whatever oil you are using for cooking) drizzled on the bottom of the dish. Sit your pork fat side up in its new house and score the fat with a sharp knife in a criss cross fashion. Sprinkle a thin layering of salt over the pork, then get a big bag of brown sugar and pack it on in a layer at least 2cm thick, don’t let any pork peek through. Put a lid or plastic wrap over the top and put in the fridge for 24 hours or until you remember it again. This can be done the morning of your bo ssam dinner, but I find it does work just a little better if the sugar and pork have spent more quality time together overnight.
4 hours before you want to serve up place your pork dish in a slow oven, uncovered. I usually have my oven at 140 degrees for the first 2 and a half hours then put it up to 150 for the last hour and a half. Depends on your oven. I have a slow cook setting on my oven that only cooks things if left in all day. I am not usually that well prepared first thing in the morning, but at least I know I don’t have to buy a slow cooker. You want the sugar nicely caramelising to a dark brown, but not burning and the pork able to melt apart with some soft poking with a fork. To serve use tongs, fork, spoons and tear it apart so there are nice shreds of pork mixing with caramelly sauce. Serve with lettuce leaves to wrap (the actual meaning of bo ssam is apparently wrapped up), rice (where your Thermomix comes in handy), spring onions and ginger in soy sauce, pickled vegetables – watermelon rind recipe coming up, kimchi, grated raw carrot. You could make all kinds of sides to go with this and turn it from a Korean dish to any kind of cuisine you like, just emphasising different flavours. A few spices in with the pork while it cooks will lift it from delicious to sublime (I like a bit of star anise and lime zest).
Try not to have too many people for dinner for this one. It is divine on a sandwich the next day.
After my earlier attempt at jam (see Plum Sauce I & II) I decided to have another crack. In order to motivate myself, I put my hand up for the jam stall at the school fete. Also, the P&C chair is a lovely woman and she put in a late tuckshop order for me. So I owed her. I’m new to the school and you never know how the P&C is going to work. I figure most people work on a mob-like favour system, hopefully with less violence and horse heads. I want the neighbourhood to know I know how to return a favour.
Jam is not something I would have bothered with before Thermomix. It sounded like something that you need to clear the kitchen for, get in heavy equipment and risk burns and ruining a large pot of something just because you forgot it was on.
There are some excellent jam recipes in the Everyday Cookbook. I plan to make the citrus marmalade and the strawberry jam, but first I wanted to try something more my Grandma’s style. She is a ginger fan. Ginger wine (by the thimble, she doesn’t want to get silly), crystallized ginger and, when the local markets are on, ginger jam. This keenness on ginger is interesting because aside from this she has a rather bland palate. Forget spices, salt and pepper are exotic and unnecessary in her meals. Her tea is taken with a mere wave of a teabag over some hot water, with very weak powdered milk added. On a night out at the club she will occasionally order a shandy with strict instructions for only 1 finger of beer, with the rest of the glass filled with lemonade. I like my shandies the other way around.
I found a pear and ginger jam recipe here, which suits because I needed something to bulk out the more expensive ginger and pears were a pretty good price from the apple man at the Kelvin Grove Markets. He sells produce from the orchards around Stanthorpe. Mainly apples, but also whatever else is dropping from the trees at any particular time of the year. I have bought quinces from him (short season this year – too much rain to keep them from rotting), huge Golden Queen peaches and every variety of apple you can think of. He had some called Champagne Apples, which I had to buy. They look very interesting and I am mulling over how to use them.
So with piles of fruit around me I peeled and cored a kilo of pears and half a kilo of pink lady apples. Keep the apple peel and core to add pectin to the jam. Peel 125g ginger and cut into chunks. To chop the ginger finely I put it in the Thermomix first and blitzed at Speed 7 for 3 seconds. Scrape and blitz again if not fine enough for you. Add the rest of the prepped fruit and chop at Speed 5 for 3 or 4 seconds. Check if the right texture for your liking. If you like it extra chunky maybe even just Turbo it a couple of times. Add juice of two lemons, reserving the seeds to add to the apple offcuts.
Add 800-1000g sugar. I didn’t want it too sweet, so I stopped at 800, but the original recipe said 1kg. It will take it right up to the maximum level in the jug, but it cooks down, so I didn’t get overflow during the cooking. Mix it all up on Speed 5 for 2 seconds.
I tied the apple peel, core and lemon seeds into a clean chux cloth and rested it on top of the fruit and sugar. You could also blend the peel and core (but not seeds – will add bitterness) all first up with the ginger so they are very fine and incorporate them in the jam mixture. I didn’t think of that until now, so went with the bouquet garni style. According to the lady I buy milk from you could also just stick a whole apple in the mix as it cooks and pull the core out at the end, the rest will have cooked down with the rest of the fruit and sugar. If you use the chux method just remember to check now and then that the bundle hasn’t become caught up in the blades. It is not a chux jam we are making. I found it stayed on top quite well and cut down splatter through the lid. Close lid, cook for 20 minutes at 100 degrees, speed 1. If you have blitzed apple peel, core and lemon seeds with the ginger you can increase speed to 2 as no issues with getting anything caught up. Put a clean saucer in the fridge.
After 20 minutes check jam is setting by spooning small amount onto the cold saucer. If its ready it will set in 30 seconds and be jelly like instead of runny. If still runny cook again in 5 minute increments until you are happy with it. This recipe filled 5 of my jam jars which I figure is the biggest yield possible, given we started out with a maximum capacity amount in the jug.