It’s done. We’re off to San Antonio. I can’t really believe it. I’m…I’m going to be a Texan. An upstate New Yorker, a Massachusettsan, a Coloradan, a Texan. Right now I’m excited about Joe having a really awesome job that will let me work more on my own crap, perpetual summer, a never ending growing season, throwing a quarter of our shit away when we pack, having a house that I can clean every surface of before moving our stuff in. So that leaves the stuff I’m not so excited about: leaving the mountains right when I am just dying to go backpacking, driving with two yowling, frothing-at-the-mouth cats, packing, loading, driving, driving, unpacking, perpetual summer, leaving a really cool burgeoning food and beer scene, leaving my new gym, leaving my wonderful friends. It’s going to be really sad. What kind of people am I going to meet there? What do they like to do?
Before I start sobbing, let’s move our focus to pork. Malaysian pork. Which, I realize is offensive to like 2/3 of that country. They should try it. Come onnnn what’s the big fuss about? Uh, okay anyway, this dish reminds me of a southeast Asian restaurant I used to love in Boston – and makes me realize how little I’ve explored that general area of cuisine here in Denver. Fuck, there’s no time. We’re taking a trip to San Antonio next weekend to try to figure out where the heck to live, then Joe’s leaving the next weekend – a place to live or not. I suppose we should work our way up Federal, eating at some ethnic restaurant every night from here on out. Tall order. I’m at least staying until mid June, so that’s relieving to me. I’ll have lots of nights to go out with friends and lots of weekends to explore parts of Colorado I never got around to. Anyone want to go to the Western slope with me and go to the wineries and go to cherry orchards to try to scavenge up the very first, probably not-yet-ripe sweet cherries?? Anyone want to backpack with me somewhere I don’t even care where?
Is this blog going to turn into a Tex-Mex blog? A neverending exploration of Tex-Mex Slop Combination A, Combination B, Combination C, and so on to infinity? Or will I be able to keep my sanity and continue to make such wonderful dishes as this meltingly soft pork with lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and garlicky coconut milk sauce? Only time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, you really ought to make this recipe. And it’s worth taking a trip to Whole Foods or an ethnic market to get lemongrass and galangal. It’s not such a pain, I promise! There are two shortcuts I built right in here – ground turmeric if you can’t find turmeric root and jarred galangal if you can’t find galangal root. You could also use jarred lemongrass. As for the bok choy, you can just chop that up and sauté it in coconut oil. Joe took the main picture for me when I was at work. It wasn’t supposed to include the bok choy. That’s what I get.
coconut-braised pork (with bok choy)
2 large shallots, chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, outer leaves peeled, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
6 garlic cloves
6 star anise
2 inches ginger, coarsely chopped
4 small hot chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 teaspoons minced galangal
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes, any bone saved
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup water
5 kaffir lime leaves (or grate some lime zest and squeeze half a lime in the pot)
2 teaspoons sea salt
scallions for garnish
1 bunch of bok choy
1. In a mortar or a food processor, grind the shallots, lemongrass, garlic, star anise, ginger, chiles, and galangal. Mix in the turmeric.
2. Heat coconut oil in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium high heat. Sauté the ground spice mix for several minutes until nice and fragrant. Add the pork chunks and stir around. Let brown for a couple minutes, then stir again and do the same. No need to be perfect about the browning.
3. Add the coconut milk, water, kaffir lime leaves, salt, and the pork bone if you had one in your shoulder cut to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3 – 4+ hours. Season with more salt if you’d like (I did).
Serve with sautéed bok choy and top with chopped scallions. Remove the kaffir lime leaves if they’re not obliterated in the pot.