Ever since we got our slow-cooker so many dishes that appeared too time consuming or labor intensive have become such easy weeknight staples. Instead of coming home and then having to braise something in a hot oven for 4 hours before eating it you can start the prep work at night, finish it in the morning, stick in the slow cooker and come back home to some delicious falling-off-the-bone tender main course. Not only that but braising for that long turns cheap cuts of meat into dinner party worthy fare. For everyone who comes home ravenous and/or exhausted from work the slow-cooker is your friend.
For this dish we took inspiration from the pork belly steamed buns at Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York. This dish involved super tender pork belly served with scallions and hoisin sauce on pillowy steamed buns. Pork belly is very rich and very fatty and we prefer something a little leaner and with more texture. This is why we decided to sub pork shoulder for pork belly and to add some more veggies on the side.
For this large portion of pork shoulder (easily serves 4) it cost us approximately $5.14. Another great money saving tip is to shop at ethnic grocery stores. Having to procure some Asian ingredients like chili oil, bok choy, and the sesame buns we went to 99 Ranch in Kearny Mesa. They recently re-did this so it’s a lot nicer and cleaner then it used to be. Not only do they have a wide variety of exotic fare they also have lots of cheap, fresh produce and very inexpensive meat. Now we wouldn’t recommend you get your filet mignon here but for cheaper cuts (like this pork shoulder) they have great deals and our meal was superb.
Asian Braised Pork Shoulder
1 boneless pork shoulder (3-4 lbs)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Lawry’s seasoning salt (you can use regular salt too)
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
3 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup of oyster sauce
1/4 cup of brown sugar
4 tbsp of sambal oelek (you can use more or less depending how much spice you want or substitute Sriracha)
1. Trim skin and fat from pork shoulder as desired (we took off most of it)
2. Mix sugar and salt and then rub all over the pork shoulder
3. Cover pork in plastic wrap and leave in refrigerator overnight or for at least 6 hours. Place over plate in case any juices leak out.
4. Whisk together the garlic, ginger, chicken stock, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, oyster sauce, brown sugar and sambal oelek.
5. Cut the pork shoulder into 3 pieces and place in slow cooker. Pour in the soy sauce and spices mixture. Make sure some of the tops of the pieces of the pork shoulder remain uncovered by liquid, these will become the crispy bits.
6. Turn the slow cooker on low and let it cook for 8-9 hours.
To complement the pork we made this Momofuku inspired dressing:
1 cup thinly sliced scallions (green and whites, 3/4 of a large bunch)
1/4 cup finely minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
1/4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp chili oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
1. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed.
2. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before using.
Because braised meats go so well with rice and bitter greens we decided to add sides of fried rice and bok choy, if you have leftover rice this is a cinch to make:
Simple Brown Fried Rice and Bok Choy
2 cups of leftover brown rice (already cooked, can also use white rice)
4 tbsp of virgin coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tbsp chopped scallions
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp grated garlic
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 1/2 lb of baby bok choy, cut in half
salt to taste
1. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil to a hot pan.
2. Add 1 tbsp of ginger and 1 tbsp of grated garlic to the oil. Let crisp for 20 seconds.
3. Add the bok choy and cook over medium high heat until tender (3-5 minutes)
4. Remove the bok choy from the pan and in the same pan add 2 tbsp of coconut oil.
5. Over medium high heat, add the two eggs and scramble them.
6. Remove the scrambled eggs from the pan and set aside.
7. Add the last tbsp of coconut oil then add in the brown rice.
8. Add in the soy sauce and the chopped scallions.
9. Stir fry until heated through (about 4 minutes).
10. Add the eggs back in and its ready!
Now after all this all you need is to buy the appropriate buns. We used these guys:
So once you have all your ingredients you can add whatever toppings you like; we did thinly sliced onions, sliced thai chili peppers and chopped scallions. I imagine other chilis, cilantro, and hoisin sauce would all be great with this too.
And then assemble as you like and eat away.
– Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar and spicy elements (like the sambal oelek and chili oil) in these recipes, some people like it sweeter, others like it spicier.
– Any other cabbage-like vegetable would complement this dish, if you don’t like/can’t find bok choy: regular cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kale or brussel sprouts would work.
– You can definitely use any oil for the fried rice and bok choy, we like coconut oil because its a good source of medium-chain fatty acids which are great for your health and can aid in weight loss by promoting fat oxidation and reduced food intake (source). They are also coconut-y and delicious! However, naturally if you are allergic to coconut please substitute for vegetable oil.