Sunday, 16 November 2014

Red Hot Heavy Metal!

Pancetta Marinata Piccante alla Piastra
Spicy, Marinated Pork Belly from the Hot Plate


If you are anything like me, you love going to your local Asian supermarket... but you pass most of the things you see there by because you have no idea what they are or how to use them!

Usually, we pass things like cooking appliances, porcelain and household goods too- but we should really slow down and take a look occasionally. I mean- those bamboo steamers? Got to have one! Rice cookers- also wonderful!

But yesterday I saw this Korean hotplate... and wondered how on Earth I have managed to get by so long without one!


Another thing "we Westerners" tend to do is to go crazy for dishes cooked in a clay pot or served on a hot metal platter like this- it seems so exotic and extravagant to us- and yet... it is just as simple a cooking method as any other... maybe even simpler!


So, in order to try out my new hot plate, of course I needed to marinate some meat and do with it what it does best- and decided to use inexpensive but totally flavorful pork belly- as you can see, 4 slices, which is enough for 2 good servings. The ingredients for the marinade were soy sauce, oyster sauce, Thai fish sauce, hot chili sauce, Spring onion, sesame seeds, fresh ginger, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.

I served the meat with some simple rice noodles and basic vegetables- Spring onion, carrot and some red pepper- and with those few simple ingredients my adventure began...

Pork belly is of course a rather fatty cut of meat, no matter what, but it is that fat that also has a lot of its great flavor. Still, for the method I used this evening, I first boiled the pork for 5 minutes before marinating it, which of course does bring out quite a bit of the fat- and that is in any case a good thing!

After 5 minutes of boiling, I cut the pork, whilst it was still hot, into bite-sized pieces.


I then put the finely chopped ginger (about a 2" piece) and Spring onion into a bowl with 1 tablespoon of hot chili sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce.


I added rice vinegar- around 5-6 tablespoons and had a taste... then added a little sugar, to balance all of the savory and sour components. I started off with just a half teaspoon, but settled for 1 whole one in the end- you may prefer more or less- it is up to you of course!

The same applies to the chili sauce and how hot the marinade is... mine was particularly hot so I did without adding the fresh chili that I had prepared- again- as long as you have the other basic ingredients in there, as far as I am concerned, the quantities should really be a matter of your own taste.


Get the pork nicely coated and let it sit for at least 30 minutes... if you can wait that long!


I cut the vegetables into chop-stick friendly pieces and set them out along with the meat, ready to sizzle-up at the table... but be warned- initially it WILL sizzle and bubble and be a little spluttery! This is of course part of the fun for a lot of people, but alternatively, you can begin cooking it in the kitchen and then serve it up hot at the table, once the wildest phase has passed- haha!

Get your hot plate smoking-hot on the stove top and add a little peanut oil, which handles heat really well, without getting too smokey too soon- then add the meat and vegetables and let them begin to sear nicely...


You may like to hold the sliced pork with the fat-side against the hot plate in order to get it crisped-up and frazzled better... but no fear- it will soon be dark, crispy golden and delicious anyway!

After 4-54 minutes, pour over any remaining marinade and a little water, and after that blast of steam has diminished, bring it to the table- it's ready to be enjoyed!


That blast of steam will go to make the meat and vegetables nice and succulent, and will also deglaze the base of the plate and bring up plenty of good flavor for you to spoon on top when you serve it.

I enjoyed mine with some simple rice noodles and a sprinkle of extra toasted sesame seeds... and how!


So easy and such fun! and thank goodness for that metal "claw" that comes with the hot plate and serves as a handle... that thing will be dangerously hot when you bring it to the table- so be sure to warn your guests... just like they do at the restaurant!


Really- with a picture like that... there isn't that much more left to say, is there? Except... as usual... Enjoy!

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