Wednesday, 18 March 2009

New Blog and Inaugural Cambodian Black Pepper Pork

My intention for the main Scatterpult blog is that it would be a place for putting random things that might sprout into blogs of there own. Well, my food obsession is definitely showing through and I'm finding those posts that don't end up in Scatterpult Dairy are still food related, so I'm making a food blog.

Earlier today I made some pakoras and this evening, after tending to the current batch of cheeses, I've broken the habit of a lifetime and followed a recipe for "Cambodian Black Pepper Pork" to the letter.

I'm someone who cooks very much by instinct. Don't get me wrong -- I love recipe books, but usually they're not the sort of recipe books a purist would like. I like big colourful pictures, descriptions of ingredients and cultural links but usually couldn't care less if the recipe itself doesn't work. I absorb the ideas and over time they filter into my approach to cooking along with things I've tasted, seen or just imagined.

The problem with this is that I'm getting into a rut. I can, for example, cook a variety of Indian and Thai style curries, stir fries and so on but attempts I make at Vietnamese influence taste, well... like Indian or Thai or Indonesian with a bit of Vietnamese influence. So I'm making a conscious effort to follow recipes for a bit rather than just glance at them and then interpret them. From the smells coming from the kitchen right now I'm cautiously optimistic.

The recipe I'm following tonight[1] is actually very simple: diced pork (300g) simmered for an hour and a half in a mix of soy sauce (1 tbsp), fish sauce (1.5 tbsp), pork stock (1 pint), grated ginger (20g), garlic (two cloves) and copious quantities of black pepper (1/2 tbsp). I wouldn't have thought to use both soy and fish sauce, and I probably wouldn't have used that much pepper without any other spices. But the real point of this is that it's a first step. Today the challenge was not to deviate from the instructions. Next time I might pick something where the instructions are more complex.

[1] From Vietnamese Food & Cooking by Ghillie Ba┼čan, Anness Publishing