Asian-Style Braised Pork Loin

This dish was super easy and delicious. The boys asked for seconds (actually, Simon ate thirds), and I’ve never seen Simon eat so much broccoli. Win, win, win, win. 

I didn’t use the green onions (Simon doesn’t like “yunyuns,” and I am trying to avoid mealtime drama). I didn’t have reduced-sodium soy sauce, so I used regular. It was plenty salty, so I would definitely suggest going for the reduced-sodium version if you can. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 quarter-sized slices unpeeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 8–16 ounces broccoli (1–2  bunches)

Directions:

  1. Combine water, 4 green onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, and star anise in a medium Dutch oven. Add pork and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 40 minutes, turning pork after 20 minutes. Turn pork again and simmer until meat thermometer inserted into center of pork reads 145 degrees (about 12 minutes). Transfer to cutting board and let cool.
  2. Pour pot liquid through sieve into glass measuring cup or bowl.
  3. To make sauce, combine 3 tablespoons cooking liquid and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil in small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Steam broccoli, then toss with 1/2 cup cooking liquid and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil in medium bowl.
  5. Cut pork into slices. Transfer pork and broccoli to plater; drizzle with sauce and remaining 2 green onions.
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Chicken Biryani

Okay, I’m not going to lie. Biryani is an investment (timewise). No part of making it is difficult, but there are a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps. The good news, though, is that the end result is worth it. This recipe (adapted from this one) makes quite a lot, so invite a friend or be prepared for delicious leftovers (or both, actually). 

I served this with medium-boiled eggs (a hit with the kids), a simple raita (minus the cayenne, per personal preference), and even simpler roasted tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 6 (or more) pieces of chicken, skinless (I used bone-in thighs this time, but you could use drumsticks or a whole cut-up chicken)

Marinade

  • bunch of cilantro, leaves only, chopped fine
  • ¼ cup mint, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste (in a tube in the produce section; I couldn’t find the two combined, so I used a tablespoon of each)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk (from a can; you’ll need more for the curry)
  • salt to taste

Curry

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-inch chunk of ginger, minced
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped fine
  • ½ cup mint, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 6-7 whole cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 6-7 whole peppercorns
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 3 dry bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2  tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth (could also use water)
  • salt to taste

Rice

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ small onion, julienned
  • 3 cups Basmati rice
  • 5 ½ cups of water or chicken broth
  • salt to taste

Garnish

  • handful of cashews, roasted in ghee
  • lime wedges

Directions:

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients. Make slits in the chicken, coat with the marinade, and let rest for a few hours or overnight.
  2. To make the curry, saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in oil until translucent. Remove from heat and cool. Mix together the cooked onions, cilantro, and mint. In a deep skillet, roast the whole spices (cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise, and bay leaves) in ghee until their aromas are released. Return the onion mixture to the pan and cook until the oil starts separating. Add the dry spices (cumin, tumeric, and garam masala), sauté for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk and brothand bring to a boil. Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook on medium until the meat is fully cooked. Let the curry cool until just warm.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Roast the whole spices (cloves, cardamom, and bay leaf) in ghee, and the sauté the onions in the same. When the onions are soft, add the Basmati rice and roast for a few minutes. Add water and salt and cook the rice until just done. Let it cool to warm. (I cooked the rice in my rice cooker.)
  4. When ready to assemble, spread the rice in a deep, oven-proof pan. Little by little add the curry and gently tossed until the rice is just wet. For 3 cups of raw rice, you will need about a cup and a half of the curry (and you’ll have about that much left over). Arrange the chicken pieces around the dish, cover with a bit rice, so they don’t dry out. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Check halfway through to see if the biryani is drying out. If so, add more curry and gently toss.
  5. To serve, scoop out the rice into a platter, arrange the chicken around and sprinkle roasted cashews over.