A few days ago, my wife Pat whipped up some brown sugar-glazed pork. The official Thai name for it is “moo+ wan+”, or “sweet pork”. (The “+” means to inflect up at the end of the word, as if you were asking a question in English.) My friends who have tasted it affectionately refer to it as “artery blockade” or “the fibrillator”. It’s a little bit like pig candy, but with three times the sugar and stir fried in oil instead of baked.
I scooped a big ol’ helping onto a plate and thought, “Hey! I should blog this! I bet people will want to know how to make it, even if they’re too scared to eat it!” So I benignly reach for the digicam. Pat then lets out a shriek:
Pat: No! You left a little grease streak on the side of the plate! If you’re gonna blog it let me clean it up!
Jack: I don’t think people will care. They know I’m a slob in the blogosphere like I am in real life. This is not some fancy food blog with fancy pictures.
Pat: You want me to put it on a nicer plate or something?
Jack: Again….ain’t my style. Function over form. Substance over style. Step aside. I’m taking the picture.
Pat: You want me to add some chopped scallions to it, to give it some color?
Jack: OK how about this…why don’t you hold up this wooden spatula and smile for the camera. I can always use a picture of you in your pajamas to accompany the picture of Jack’s Famous Artery Blockade.
Pat then shrieks even louder and runs upstairs to hide from the digicam, the sound of her giggling receding up the stairwell (she can’t help but giggle even in times of extreme distress- at least if our house ever catches fire at night I’ll be awakened by the sound of giggling).
Alas, after that whole ordeal, below is the “recipe” for Jack’s Artery Blockade. Don’t even ask me about portions and cooking times…just use The Force when you cook, like my grandma.
- Add some oil to a medium hot pan or wok
- Throw in some sliced pork or cooked bacon
- Add some fish sauce. I’m Thai-Chinese but not a Thai-Chinese snob (can’t we all just get along?), so I use fish sauce like the recipe calls for, not soy sauce
- Add some white pepper
- Add some brown sugar
- DO NOT add garlic. I like garlic, but it tastes funny in this dish
- DO NOT add vegetables. They suck
- Let the meat simmer for a bit
- Push all the meat toward the outer edges of the pan or wok, leaving a hole in the middle
- You will see the sugary sauce (aka “Jack’s Super Secret Artery Blockade Sauce”) begin to evaporate in the center of the pan. I think fancy cooksters call this a reduction. Like, “Siamese Pork Cutlet with a Lana’i Sugar Cane Reduction”. Since I won’t be charging $20 for this dish (I don’t have nice enough plates- my fine china is made of plastic), I just call it “evaporating pig meat juice”
- Lower the heat to medium-low to medium
- Sprinkle more sugar periodically and stir
- Over time the juice will continue to evaporate and form a glaze. Keep on alternately stirring and then creating a space in the middle for the juice to evaporate.
- It’s ready to eat after it’s simmered and stirred for a while, when the pork has hardened somewhat and the glaze gels and is no longer like gravy
- Sprinkle chopped scallions over the top before serving, for presentation
I actually object to the last step, but as I type this Pat is dangling my six pack of Costco bacon over the trash can, saying “Tell them to add scallions. Now. Bitch.“