Sunday, 1 February 2015

Pot Luck!

Minestra Aromatica in Stile Asiatico, con Polpettini di Maiale & Bok Choi
Aromatic Asian-Styled Hot-Pot, with Pork Meatballs & Bok Choi


Day 4 of a cold and still as much in need of warming and comforting food as ever! But then again- aren't we all that way, all Winter, whether we are feeling fit or not?

Right! Warming, comforting dishes like this are perfect for this time of year- especially if they are easy to make and all take place in one pot! I like those kinds of dishes the most!


Doesn't that look lovely, flavorful and rich? It is, too! All of that and more... and yet the ingredients are so simple and the flavors are so good, it is amazing how easy it is to make!


For those little meatballs, I needed just 125g of ground pork- enough to make a modest burger. To this, I added 2 baby bok choi, 1 small carrot, 1 Spring onion, a stalk of celery and a handful of green beans. The noodles I used were brown rice noodles- but any kind of Asian noodles is fine. And then the important part of this dish- the flavorings!

And they were, 3-4 slices of ginger, 2-3 Kaffir lime leaves, 1 star anise, 1 tablespoon of 5 spice powder and a teaspoon of shrimp-flavored chili flakes. A little Thai fish sauce, a little soy sauce- and yes, all of these ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find at any Asian supermarket.


There's a lot of flavor and a lot of comfort in that bowl! How 'bout you try to make some of your own and find out?


Chop up the carrot, celery, Spring onion and beans into bite-sized pieces, cut yourself 3-4 thin slices of ginger to flavor the broth with and cut the bok choi in half to make them easier to manage later.


To make the meatballs, add the 5-spice powder, the chili flakes and a little of the finely chopped onion tops to the ground pork and mix thoroughly together. Don't be afraid to get in there and you your hand- you want it to be a thorough mix and for the meat to begin to paste together nicely.


Roll into little spoon-sized balls and set to one side, ready to add to your vegetable broth in a few minutes.


Start the carrot, celery, beans and ginger boiling in plenty of water, along with the star anise, the kaffir lime leaves and a good splash of soy sauce.

Gently drop in the meatballs and let them cook away on a low simmer for 10 minutes or so.


After the vegetables and meatballs have boiled for 10 minutes or so, there will be a lovely citrus aroma from the lime leaves with that exotic hint of star anise coming through- mmm! Combined with the richness of the pork and 5-spice, it is a wonderful combination indeed!

Time to add the bok choi and Spring onion now- and not much longer to wait!


Push your ingredients to one side and add the noodles- gently stir them and loosen them up a little, bring the broth back up to the boil and then turn off the heat and let it sit for a further 5 minutes just so. This will give the noodles to to cook through, but not overcook, and for all of the wonderful flavors and aromas be absorbed.


I served mine up by first lifting out the noodles with tongs and then spooning out the other ingredients on top, before adding plenty of that aromatic broth... absolutely delicious!


Now, that's a veritable feast if you ask me my friends! Made from such humble ingredients and yet so rich and tasty- this is un-pretentious, honest, good food and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


 And one more for the road...

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