Looking for a recipe rich with tradition but not tied to it? Helene An is the matriarch of a restaurant empire, with five restaurants throughout California, including Crustacean Beverly Hills. She’s known as the “mother of fusion” for the way she’s brought together Vietnamese, French and California farm-to-table. Hell, her last name means “to eat” in Vietnamese.
This recipe from her cookbook An: To Eat: Recipes and Stories from a Vietnamese Family Kitchen is a shining example of her signature style. It’s also a relatively simple one.
Slow-roasting is a kitchen secret weapon that packs all the flavor of four hours slaving away in the kitchen, without the actual slaving. This slow-roasted pork gives just that with a ginger-balsamic zing perfectly complemented with sweet brown sugar and plenty of herbs and spices. Pop this into the oven, then tackle the rest of your busy life, or sit back for some well-deserved “me time.”
Slow-roasted pork with ginger-balsamic glaze recipe
Reprinted with permission from AN: TO EAT © 2016 by HELENE AN and JACQUELINE AN, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group
Makes 6 servings
For the pork
- 1 (3-1/2-pound) pork shoulder
- 10 whole garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons sambal chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 fresh lemongrass stalks
- 3 carrots, oblique cut (see note below)
- 1 white onion, cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 6 bay leaves
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 cups pineapple juice
- 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
For the glaze
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and julienned into 2-inch-long thin strips
- 4 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Cut ten slits in the pork shoulder big enough to fit a garlic clove, and insert a clove into each one.
- In a small bowl, stir together the sambal, brown sugar, salt, and ¬garlic powder. Massage this mixture into the pork.
- Cut a slit into the middle of the pork and insert the lemongrass stalks.
- Layer the carrots, onion, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs on the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour the pineapple and orange juices over top. Place the pork on top of the vegetables. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and cook the pork uncovered for 30 minutes until caramelized and charred golden brown
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven and cover the top with foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F, return the roasting pan to the oven, and cook the pork for 3 hours until charred brown and meat is fork tender.
- About 30 minutes before the roast has finished cooking, prepare the glaze. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and sauté just until it is aromatic, 15 to 20 seconds. Whisk in the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the glaze thickens, about 20 minutes.
- Take the pork out of the oven and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Drizzle the glaze over the pork when you are ready to serve. Slice the pork and serve it with white rice on the side, being sure to spoon the pan juices over all.
Oblique cutting is popular in Asian cuisine, not just because it produces beautiful shapes but also because it exposes more of the surface area of a vegetable, allowing for faster cooking. Also called roll-cutting because it’s done while rolling the vegetable, oblique cutting is easily done as follows:
- Cut the vegetable once at a 45-degree angle.
- Keeping your knife raised over the vegetable at the same angle, use our free hand to roll the vegetable a quarter turn so that the newly cut diagonal side faces up toward the ceiling.
- Now cut down at the same 45-degree angle, slicing through the middle of the cut face.
- Quarter turn the vegetable again and repeat.