My favourite pig farmer, of Harmony Herd, happily supplies about as many parts of the pig as you can imagine at the local monthly market. So along with a varying range of sausage flavours that you might also find in the supermarket, he routinely sells trotters, hocks and other less-commonly seen bits. I like getting the cheeks when he has them, not least because they are modest sized meat portions, about 3-4 ounces each, but also because they are surprisingly versatile. Looking at the price per pound may be daunting, but the price per serving is terrific, at under 40 pence.
For this dish, I’ve adapted a pork chop recipe from Chinese cooking class cookbook by the Editors of Consumer Guide (NY, 1980). In addition to scaling it down to size, I’ve reduced the total number of ingredients and added cooking suggestions. You may be surprised at how much flavour can come from so little seasoning. Serves 2
|6-8 ounces||Pork cheeks|
|1/2 teaspoon||Cornstarch/corn flour/arrowroot starch|
|1/2 teaspoon||Light soy sauce|
|1/4 teaspoon||Chinese 5 spice powder|
|1/2 cup||Groundnut (peanut) oil for cooking (It tolerates a higher heat than ordinary vegetable oil before smoking.)|
|1||Vegetable or chicken bouillon cube (or equivalent)|
|1/4 cup||Boiling water|
- Mix together cornstarch, soy sauce, sherry and spice in small bowl to make marinade. It won’t look like much.
- Place the pork cheeks in the bowl one at a time, turning them so that they are covered in marinade. Leave to stand for up to two hours, turning occasionally.
- When you are ready to cook, heat the oil in a wok over high heat.
- Cook for three to five minutes, turning once during cooking. The outsides may turn black, but don’t worry, you haven’t ruined them.
- Remove from wok; drain on paper towel.
- Allow meat to rest for at least five minutes before slicing across the grain in 1/4 inch thick medallions. If the meat is not cooked fully enough, return the medallions to hot oil for a minute or two, turning once.
- Transfer to a heated serving dish.
- Combine bouillon and water; pour over sliced pork.
- Serve with rice and stir-fried vegetables.
Here, I’ve steamed a mix of three kinds of rice, and made stir-fried cauliflower ‘waste’.