Deja Vu, Pork Vindaloo
Today’s dish, Pork Vindaloo, I wasn’t expecting to me new to me like so many (most) of the dishes I’ve made over the past year and a half. It turned out it wasn’t new to me, but not in the way I expected. I’ll explain.
I’ve made vindaloo before, but of the chicken variety. I vaguely recall that it was very spicy with a thick, tomato sauce that somehow lessened the blow of the heat. This dish was not that. Not even close to that, but nonetheless pretty awesome.
I couldn’t find that original recipe if I tried in my disorganized hodgepodge of recipes, some bound in specific binders, some haphazardly tucked away, post-it noted, earmarked, annotated. This “system” of organization may surprise you, but for whatever reason I can find exactly what I’m looking for when I’m looking for it. I know which chocolate cupcake to use for which occasion, and how to work a recipe that merely says “350F” under the instructions. I inherited my system from the Big Buddha. If you could have seen his den…
I digress. The Vindaloo. Right. So, original recipe lost into oblivion, I looked to Mama Buddha’s trusted source for all recipes Asian: The Complete Asian Cookbook. I should have stolen this from her when I went home for Thanksgiving since it addresses every single country I’ve covered since then, but sadly I forgot. All of them. Had I this book, it would have saved me a lot of time searching for recipes.
Unlike how I remember (maybe because now cooking different and exotic recipes is old hat?), this book’s recipe was simple, straightforward and only required a handful of ingredients, none particularly weird or hard to find. Just as I like it. I will note in my search for ginger, two different grocery stores that I visited had moldy ginger. Gross, though I couldn’t bring myself to pay $5 for the squeeze ginger and therefore went to a third store to acquire some. Does ginger freeze well? I’m asking. If you have thoughts on freezing ginger root, please do share.
The end result of this vindaloo was not at all as I remember, and despite the array of spices familiar in Indian cuisine, instead tasted shockingly like mojo pork. Not exactly, mind you, but sort of similar. As I write this I realize you may not be familiar with mojo sauce (oh, but you will! Wait for it!). Mojo seasoning is popular in Cuban foods and my family and I ate it often while growing up in Miami and afterwards (So, not new to me flavor-wise, but not the way I remembered the vindaloo). Slow-roasted mojo ribs with black beans and rice are a favorite in my house, and something that I’ll definitely be sharing when the time is right.
Now is not that time.
For now, here’s a taste of what’s to come under the heading of India. It’s light in consistency and bright in flavor, the perfect “whattup, spring?” meal since it’s going to be 40 degrees later this week and that alone is cause for some celebration. Thinking out loud, this would actually be great in some sort of Indian fusion tacos or something. Hmm. I’ll work on developing that, perhaps. But for now, I served this alongside some of the Tomato Biryani, which may seem like it wouldn’t work flavor-combination-wise but it does. Very well.
Note from the cook:
1) I started this the night before, and if you do the same, I’d caution you to not leave in in the marinade overnight. I have no proof that this will happen, but I gathered that the very acidic vinegar marinade would ceviche the pork if left too long. Therefore, if you’re not going to cook this right away, drain the pork and reserve the marinade before housing it in the fridge overnight.
2) This also seems like a LOT of vinegar. Don’t worry, you won’t taste it. Seriously. Also, if you have a brewer’s yeast sensitivity like I do (blah), you can use lemon juice, or make sure your vinegar is distilled.
Recipe from The Complete Asian Cookbook
2 pound pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into chunks
6-8 large dried red chilis
1 cup vinegar (or lemon juice)
2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
7 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp salt
1 TB oil or ghee
2 medium onions, finely diced
1. Soak the chilies in the vinegar for 10 minutes. Put the chilies, vinegar, ginger, garlic, spices and salt into a blender. Marinate the meat in this for two hours.
2. Heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan and fry until gently soft and golden. Stir frequently, cooking them until all the liquid from the onions and evaporated.
3. Drain the meat from the marinade and fry, turning cubes, until the meat changes color, then pour in the marinade. Cover pan and simmer on low heat until the meat is well cooked, about 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your meat chunks.
4. Serve hot with…wait for it…rice.