Sunday, 3 February 2013

Samurai Skewers

Spiedini di Maiale allo Sansho & Tagliatelle Asiatiche con Piselli, Coriandolo e Menta
Sansho Pork Skewers with Glass Noodle/Cilantro/Snow Pea Salad

Yes, I became a warrior in the kitchen this evening- but I didn't have much need of a Samurai sword for this meal! No, the Japanese influence came from the Sansho pepper that I used to season my little ground-pork skewers, which is wonderful with its truly intense lemon flavor! Use a little too much of that stuff and you can slay a dragon for sure!

I combined it with a salad, made of glass noodles, snow peas, mint, cilantro, sesame and lots of lime juice- mmm! So there were lots of strong, fresh flavors going on here- and they went together pretty wonderfully! Not traditional, not authentic and not a problem is what I would say if you asked me about this recipe. I think that is 3 good reasons for you and I to make this- and to leave the real thing to the people who know it best...

The first thing I did was to prepare the glass noodle salad. To do this, I put the noodles into a bowl, along with the snow peas which I had chopped up a little and covered them with boiling water. I let them sit for 5 minutes, until the noodles were cooked and the peas a little more tender but with plenty of crunch. That was all the cooking that was entailed- pretty wonderful!

I drained off the hot water and ran the noodles and peas under the cold tap to cool them off- that way I was ready to get going and assemble the salad- but also, the nice, bright green of the peas was maintained better. The other ingredients were plenty of cilantro and a little mint, which I chopped finely and added along with a splash of fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and the plenty of lime juice. I tossed everything together and set the salad to one side for the flavors to combine, develop and soak into the noodles... this was going to be a great supper!

The skewers I made by gently kneading together the ground pork with some grated ginger and finely chopped onion, with a little fish sauce added for seasoning and nothing else. Simple. I formed the meat into 3 portions which I skewered and patted into shape, then began to fry them in a non-stick frying pan with no added fat. I rolled them back and forth so that they browned nice and evenly. After about 5 minutes, the pork was nicely browned in the middle, but still a little pink at each end. No problem. I added a splash of water into the frying pan- just a little, rolled them back and forth and put on the lid. I kept rolling them back and forth with the lid on for a minute or so and then released it... the trapped steam created enough heat to make sure the pork cooked all the way through- again... easy!

I let them fry for a minute or two longer until the water had evaporated away and they had begun to fry and crisp up again... and that was it! I was ready to serve!

I sprinkled the skewers with the infamous, yellow Sansho pepper and immediately everything tasted wonderfully intensely of lemon- yum! But remember now- this stuff is tricky! It doesn't simply become hot like chili if you use too much- it seriously works as an anesthetic and WILL put your tongue to sleep if you are not careful! A little- delicious- a lot- not good! You have been warned!

I sprinkled the salad with toasted sesame and served a little sweet chili sauce and soy up on the side for extra seasoning if necessary... and that my friends was that! Just plain delicious! Be fearless, be bold and try something new... because after all- that is all that I do! And enjoy!

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