This post has taken me so long to write. Being a food blogger (I say food blogger, but what I really mean is disorganised) means that my computer is a jumble of pictures without notes and notes without pictures and this was a case of lots of notes with absolutely no pictures.
Why? Because I was so excited about my new kitchen gadget that I’d drafted up a half a dozen recipes to test. I made pulled pork tacos, chili con carne, mexican beef (twice!) and ragu. I factored in extras too so that after I served guests, I’d have leftovers to shoot pictures in good light. But the leftovers never made it. So, here I am with five or so scribbled recipes and no pictures to post. I had to make this recipe again to take photos – and I decided not to wait for light this time.
Why all the excitement, you ask? Well, mostly because I received one of my now-favourite kitchen gadgets in the mail. A 6L Fissler Vitavit Comfort pressure cooker. Yeah, okay, I have a pressure cooker already – but this one is way prettier, heats more evenly and actually does what I want it to.
I love pressure cookers. Love ’em. They’re an essential kitchen gadget, especially if you love one pot meals and are short on time. I make everything from mexi-beef (more on that soon) to ragu and stocks in mine. Sure, you can use a slow cooker, but I’m not that keen to leave it on all day with no one watching.
A pressure cooker will cook something in a fraction of the time it would take in a slow cooker while preserving more of the flavour and nutritional value. New technology means that they’re really not the fussy old gadgets that your grandma used to have. You know the ones – you had to always check the seals and look away when you opened the lid, just in case.
My old pressure cooker was something I had bought for $5 from an op shop, was unwieldy, had an annoying lip around the edge that made it really difficult to clean and I never really trusted the seals. I found that I couldn’t always tell what my old pressure cooker was doing, so I often opened it to find that the heat was too high and all the liquid had evaporated out. Fissler’s ‘traffic light’ display is pretty cool, letting you know if you need to turn the heat up or down during cooking so that you’re getting most out of your pressure cooker.
I consulted Heston for fact checking (the book, not the man himself) – Heston at Home says because a pressure cooker is a sealed, pressurised container, it holds on to lots of flavour that normally evaporates when you make stock in a pot. “A pressure cooker really maximises the amount of flavour you can extract.”
And then, this beautiful gadget landed on my doorstep. (Not actually on my doorstep, I would never let my beloved kitchen gadgets sit on the floor.)
It’s a great summer recipe – just in time to make the best of the weather and enjoy outdoor dining. Best part is that you can cook it all up in advance and serve it when your guests arrive.
I use a joint of pork to thicken the stock because it gives it a smooth, almost gelatinous quality – and I love using off cuts anyway. What you’re looking for is a joint with cartilage usually a knuckle, as the gelatin will help add body to a sauce. If you’re squeamish, or just can’t get your hands on this particular cut then use cornstarch instead.
Asian Pulled Pork Sandwich with Pineapple Salsa
1 loaf good quality sourdough, sliced
for the pork
1 kg pork neck (it’s the closest to what Americans call pork butt, or Boston butt)
1 litre stock, or water with powdered stock
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 inch ginger, sliced
½ cup shao xing
½ cup oyster sauce
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup kicap manis
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 stick cinnamon
3 whole star anise
pork trotter or joint (optional), or use 2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
for the asian coleslaw
¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 granny smith apples, coarsely grated with skin on
15 purple perilla leaves, finely sliced
2 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
squeeze of lime juice
for the pineapple salsa
half a pineapple, skin off and cut into ½ cm dice
½ red onion, finely diced
20 mint leaves, thinly sliced
- Cut the piece of pork into four pieces, lengthwise then crosswise so that it cooks more evenly – with one big piece the outer layers can be flaky while the inside remains tough.
- Put all the ingredients for the pork, except the cornstarch mix, into your pressure cooker. Put the lid on and cook for 40 minutes.
- While your pork is cooking make the coleslaw – mix the vinegar, water, sugar and lime juice and pour over the cabbage, apple and mint. Toss to mix evenly cover and place in the fridge.
- Make the pineapple salsa by gently tossing the diced pineapple, red onion and mint. Cover and place in the fridge.
- Once your pork has been cooking for 40 minutes, allow to cool/de-pressurise following your pressure cooker manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the four pieces of pork and allow to cool. Strain the liquid to reserve the stock and remove the garlic bits, spices and bones from the joint.
- Place the stock back into the pressure cooker (at this point, add the cornstarch mixture if using) place on medium heat and cook until the mixture is reduced by two thirds.
- Pull the pork apart with two forks and pour over the reduced stock.
- To serve, top a thick slice of sourdough with some asian coleslaw, a generous heap of warm pulled pork and some pineapple salsa.