This recipe comes from one of my favorite Australian cookbook authors, Teage Ezard. Both of his cookbooks take traditional Southesast Asian fare and modernize them, with tremendous results. We used his book for a cookbook club at my home last month, and we all agreed it was the best book to date from a taste perspective, and consistency of the dishes (they were all VERY good).
Disclaimer: My food photography skills are a work in progress, so ignore the fact that this photo looks very sphincter-esque. It was absolutely delicious and you will want to bathe in the (Australian Spelling for chile...don't judge) chilli caramel.
Crispy Fried Pork Hock with Chilli Caramel, Steamed Rice and Spicy Thai salad
Cuisine: Modern Asian
Pork hock (needs 12 hours)
3 x 500 g (1 lb) boneless pork hocks
3 litres (6 pints) master stock
3 litres (6 pints) vegetable oil for frying
Chilli caramel sauce
500 g (1 lb) light palm sugar, roughly chopped
450 ml (141⁄2 fl oz) water
2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced
2 long red chillies, finely sliced
1 long green chilli, finely sliced
40 ml (11⁄4 fl oz) fish sauce
60 ml (2 fl oz) lime juice
Spicy Thai salad
3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 long cucumber, peeled and finely sliced on an angle
40 g (11⁄2 oz) fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1 long red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
1 small red onion, cut in half and finely sliced
5 medium spring onions (scallions), white ends only, finely sliced on an angle
1⁄2 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
1⁄2 cup Thai basil leaves
1⁄2 cup mint leaves
1 cup pickled bean shoots
1⁄4 cup crispy shallot garnish
4 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons gula melaka syrup
200 g (7 oz) jasmine rice
200 ml (7 fl oz) water
This is one of Teague Ezard's signature dishes – the chilli-caramel flavours are really delicious with the crispy pork. At ezard restaurant they try to be as authentic as possible when using Asian master stocks. These add a truly extraordinary depth of flavour and colour to a dish, which only intensifies with time.
Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Bring the master stock to the boil. Lay out three pieces of muslin on your work surface. Place a pork hock, skin side down, on each piece of muslin and roll up to form a neat sausage. Tuck in the ends of the muslin and tie securely with butcher’s string. Place the hocks into a large deep braising dish and pour over the boiling stock. Cover with a lid, place in the oven and braise very slowly for 2–3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Remove from the oven and allow the pork hocks to cool in the braising liquid. When the hocks are cold, remove them from the liquid and let them drain in a colander. Pat them dry and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (or hang them in a cool dry place). Peel away the muslin and slice each hock into 4 even pieces, each around 200 g (7 oz).
Chilli caramel sauce
Place the palm sugar in a wide heavy-based saucepan. Add 400 ml (13 fl oz) water, bring to the boil and simmer for around 10 minutes to form a light caramel. Brush down the sides of the pan with water from time to time to stop it from crystallising. As the caramel starts to darken, remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 50 ml (11⁄2 fl oz) cold water, which will slow the cooking process. The caramel should be dark, but not burnt. Add the chillies and allow the caramel to cool. Season with the fish sauce and lime juice, tasting to check the balance of flavours, which should be hot, sweet and salty.
Spicy Thai salad
Blanch the lime leaves in boiling water for 5 seconds, refresh in cold water and slice finely. Assemble and prepare the remaining salad ingredients. Prepare the pickled bean shoots and crispy shallots according to Basic recipes.
Wash the jasmine rice in a colander until the water runs clear. Place in a rice cooker, add the cold water and steam until tender.
In a medium saucepan or deep-fryer heat the vegetable oil to 180ºC (350ºF). Fry the pork, 2–3 pieces at a time, for 7–8 minutes, or until the skin turns a glossy dark brown. Remove from the oil and drain on absorbent paper. Keep warm while you fry the remaining pieces of pork.
Combine the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. To make the dressing, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce and gula melaka. Taste and adjust the balance if necessary, pour onto the salad and mix everything together well.
Place a small mound of salad in the bottom of each bowl and top with a piece of pork. Drizzle with the chilli caramel and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Note: The pork hocks may not initially appear to be crispy when they are removed from the oil. They will start to crisp up as they cool down out of the oil.
Recipe from Contemporary Australian Food by Teage Ezard. Published by Hardie Grant Books.
I realized I forgot to add the recipe for the Master Stock. This is a recipe you can reuse indefinitely. Just remember to strain and freeze in between uses according to the instructions below.
Created by Teage Ezard
Makes 4 litres (8 pints)
3 litres (6 pints) water
250 ml (9 fl oz) light soy sauce
500 ml (16 fl oz) Shao Xing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
200 g (7 oz) yellow rock sugar
40 g (11⁄2 oz) fresh ginger
5 cloves garlic
3 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
10 g (2 teaspoons) dried mandarin peel
Spices for bag
4 whole cloves
4 star anise
1 teaspoon sichuan pepper
1 teaspoon licorice root
1 teaspoon dried chilli
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
This Asian master stock is a key ingredient in my kitchen. Master stocks are essential for the red-braised dishes of China. The soy sauce gives a rich reddish-brown colour to any meat or poultry, while the Chinese wine, rock sugar and spices impart a unique flavour.
The master stock can be used over and over again and it will grow better and richer over time. However it is important to follow a few essential rules to prevent harmful bacteria growing. Only ever use a master stock to cook one type of meat – i.e. only chicken, or duck or pork. It is not a multi-purpose stock. After each use, bring the stock back to the boil, and then skim it and strain through a fine sieve into a clean sealable container. Allow it to cool completely before refrigerating or freezing.
Place all of the spices into a piece of muslin cloth and tie into a bag. Put the spice bag along with all of the other ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 10 –15 minutes to allow the spices to infuse. Allow the stock to cool completely before pouring into a clean container. Leave the aromatics in the stock overnight to intensify the flavours. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.