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Asian-ish food fortnight – Dipping Sauces, and many ways to eat a Pork Roast

So it all started when I was hosting a bridge night at my house, and I thought that a nice low-work thing to serve would be various frozen dumplings steamed and fried. Turns out – this was an amazing plan!

And I made several dipping sauces to go with:

From The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller

Mustard Dressing (p.717)

1 Tablespoon powdered chinese mustard
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
a few drops of sesame oil

1. combine in a jar, cap tightly, and shake well to blend
2. refrigerate 3-4 hours to develop the flavor.

**verdict: nasty! Despite vigorous shaking, the mustard rose to the top and the whole thing tasted mostly of vinegar. This one got one taste and then wasn’t served that night.**

From Real Thai by Nancie McDermott

Nahm Jeem Gratiem
Sweet-Hot Garlic Sauce

official proportions:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chili-garlic sauce (tuong or toi sauce) or coarsely ground dried red chili

how I made it –
Brought to a boil:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

And then added:

  • 2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 generous pinches of salt

Once it hit a rolling boil, reduced the heat and simmered until it thickened to a thin syrup (longer than the 20 minutes the recipe called for, but I didn’t make it too thick because it still had too cool and be dip-able).

Then I poured it into a jar already containing:

  • and the tail end of a bottle of sambal olek (I guessed there was about 2 teaspoons there, but I could have been off)

And stirred. Then I tasted it and said, “Oh, god that’s good, but hella spicy!”

So I mixed up another batch of syrup:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 2 generous pinches of salt

and added that to the jar and stirred.

**Verdict: This sauce is amazingly tasty! It was also amazingly hot served the day I made it. Oddly, two days later, when I went to steam up some leftover dumplings, it no longer seemed so hot. So either the sauce mellows, or I just like spicy food and don’t have to notice how odd that is when no one is looking… la la la! Still, even the people who didn’t like spicy agreed that it was an awesome sauce**

From Classic Chinese Cuisine by Nina Simonds

Dumpling Dipping Sauce II (p.112)

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
1 Tablespoon chili oil
(plus a pinch of sugar)

**Verdict: I thought it tasted amazing and made a double recipe, but I was promptly informed that while it was tasty, it was too hot. So I sliced some scallions in this one to differentiate it and went on to make…**

Dumpling Dipping Sauce I (p.112)

1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
(plus a pinch of sugar)

**Verdict: So this was judged not to be the dipping sauce found in every chinese restaurant, but it was still found to be quite acceptable and very tasty.**

But even after eating up all of the tasty dumplings we hadn’t gotten through at bridge and after giving away about a third of the sweet-hot spicy sauce, I still had a ton of these dipping sauces left over.

So I thawed a pork loin roast.

After one evening in the fridge, it was thawed enough that I could take it out of the plastic back and score it with cross-hatched knife cuts. I put it back in the back and added some marinade:

  • a couple ginger slices
  • some 5 spice powder
  • and about half a cup of the two dipping sauces combined (I just dumped the two containers together after people left, since I didn’t mind the heat)

And I left it for another night.

It still wasn’t completely thawed, but I went ahead and roasted it anyway – with three cloves stuck in the crosshatching cut into the fatty side, a light dusting of powdered thyme, and salt over the fat (because it’s tasty!).

I cooked it according to the directions in my Joy of Cooking. Pre-heat oven to 450F; insert roast and turn down to 350F; cook 30-35 minutes/pound. I was generous in my time estimate because it was still a bit frozen in the middle, but I ended up with thoroughly a cooked roast I would not have wanted to have in the oven all that much longer.

So that first night, I just cut off bites and ate it slathered in the sweet-hot garlic sauce to finish that off – they went together perfectly.


But now I have the rest of the (cooked) roast in my fridge. So I took a few slices of pork, cut them into strips and made wraps/quesadillas/soft tacos with them.

In a bit of olive oil, I grilled down

  • half an onion, cut into short strips
  • 2 jalepeno peppers with just the flesh (no seeds or white part) diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • a little less that a tablespoon of pickled ginger, ripped into smaller pieces
  • a fistful of baby carrots cut into matchsticks
  • pork strips
  • shredded napa cabbage
  • and sprinkled over with black vinegar and some of the dipping sauce

Then I warmed a tortilla, piled on some lettuce from an oriental mix that had been on sale at my supermarket, and then put the pork/veggie mixture on top – and ate it. With a bit of homemade chinese mustard. Yum yum yum.


So last night, I not only still had leftover pork in my fridge (which I’ll get to next week), but also I had leftover wrap filling. So I put it on a salad.

Pretty much just more of that same salad mix, the rest of the filling popped into the microwave for a bit, and a salad dressing (made from a quarter of a teaspoon of chinese mustard, some plum sauce, some black vinegar, some more of the dipping sauce, and a dollop of honey).

The only thing I could have done to make it any better was slice up some more napa cabbage to refresh the cooked-down cabbage in the filling.


Now I have to figure out what to do with the rest of the roast (though sandwiches, with mayonnaise on white bread, are high up on the list).

ETA: There was also random fried rice (made from French red rice because I had acquired it randomly, and I thought its nuttiness would be kinda like brown rice and all that – it ended up being tasty food). It took a lot more work that brown rice to make the flavors play nice with the strong ricey ones.

moar chocolate

So I’ve been sampling local hot chocolates. Well, today I went to Starbucks because a co-worker had a coupon for free coffee. And I’m afraid their hot chocolate might be the best of the lot. It was the least sweet and possibly the most flavourful. A medium, however, was $2.94

And then I had three 30g chocolate bars from Dolfin:

  • Dark w/ pink peppercorns from Brazil – I’d had this one before and adored it. One of the things I like is the occasional crunch of a piece of peppercorn. It’s a nice balance of spicy and intriguing flavor.
  • Dark – white pepper & cardamom from Guatemala – surprisingly tasty. This one was a bit of a risk for me, since I’ve had bad cardamom experiences in my past, but it ended up being quite tasty; it did not taste at all like chai to me. Sorry to get poetic, but it kind of tasted like dancing.
  • Milk w/ green tea and jasmin from Morocco – I love how people have discovered that the bitterness of the tea makes it go better with these dark milk chocolates instead of with dark chocolate. It makes these (by which I mean this one and the Vosges bar) incredibly sensuous, and it makes me unwilling to eat them with any restraint at all. As for the Jasmine? That flavor was subtly there, but I didn’t think it changed the character of the bar much.

food list

What I have
a few spears of asparagus
1 pt bean sprouts
1 orange bell pepper
hot peppers
broccoli stems
3 small-ish eggplants
napa cabbage
green beans (composted)
a very few snow peas
2 pears

tail end of a container of heavy cream
1% milk
plain yogurt in need of being eaten
onion & sour cream dip

leftover pork roast
peking duck carcass (for stock)
a little chicken stock

Thai sweet-spicy garlic sauce
Dumpling dipping sauce
frozen dumplings
chinese mustard
plum sauce
1/4 pecan-topped chocolate pie

Monday, April 14
leave work promptly – stop by The Bridge and pick up comps from film festival
steam some dumplings – nom nom nom
cook up 1 cup of red rice

Tuesday, April 15
volunteer at closing night party, and fill up on free food.

Wednesday, April 16
make fried rice from veggies, pork, and red rice
thaw container of raw beef/pork

Thursday, April 17
Stir fry broccoli, meat, and cabbage, with black pepper sauce – with noodles.

Friday, April 18
random things dipped into onion dip – crackers & veggies

Saturday & Sunday

If Vosges had a cult, I’d probably join

I walked from my place to the theater on Sunday (~4 miles), so I stopped along the way at my coffee/tea/chocolate place and bought some chocolate.

I am becoming a big fan of Vosges Chocolate. They are not afraid to use milk chocolate, and they end up with wonderfully balanced flavors that I gobble up like two dollar chocolate instead of savoring because they are just that seductive.

Macha Bar – Just slightly bitter. It’s that powdered green tea that’s used to make green tea ice cream, but this doesn’t have any powdery taste to it. And the deep milk chocolate the pair it with is fatty enough to rough out the flavor nicely, but it’s still dark enough to be all sleek and sexy and have no obvious milk flavors. This was a repeat purchase – because it’s yummy!

Barcelona Bar – grey sea salt and hickory smoked almonds. With big chunks of salt that crackle on your teeth. A simple bar made very sexy.

Red Fire Bar – ancho & chipotle chillies & ceylon cinnamon. At first this 55% cacao dark chocolate just tastes a bit smoky and spiced, but afterwards a nice burn builds on the tongue. It’s just the right amount of heat. I’d get this again.

I’d get all of them again.

I want a trash can

It’s a pretty small studio apartment, and there have been things I’ve been doing without besides counter space.

I think it’s time I bought a trashcan. I have been living these past 4 years or so by just dangling those plastic grocery bags off the back of a chair, but I think it might be time to have a real trashcan.

What’s more, I finally figured out where in my tiny apartment one would fit.

So I’ve decided I want one just like this: tall, slim, and secretly holding a smaller bag (so I can still use the grocery bags instead of buying plastic bags – since that’s even stupider for the environment than the grocery jobbies). And then if I want something tall that still hold a little bag, there’s no reason not to have a recycle compartment underneath.

But – when did trash cans from target start costing $100? Right, so this one only costs $50 (50!), but that’s because it’s crap and three of four reviewers received the thing damaged. I would like one in metal. For $30. Where can I find that?

ETA: Oooo! This! I want this. For $30 – bitches. /ETA

Speaking of my tiny apartment, I am stuffing it to capacity (or over) this weekend. I have successfully managed 8 people with 2 tables for bridge before. I have even managed 8 people with one spectator before. I might have 10 bridge players and up to 2 spectators this Sunday. Yikes! Hopefully the weather will be nice enough that we can spill out into the back yard.

And I haven’t stocked up on snacks or drinks at all.