Tuesday, October 10, 2006

chairman mao's braised pork with water chestnuts

I fear The Boss is having an identity crisis.
Here's what I mean: The Boss spent his formative years in Glasgow, went to school in Glasgow, supports Glasgow Celtic, speaks in a Glasgow accent, sends texts in Glaswegian (ie "The wee man's a genius), spends lots of his spare time in Glasgow. The only thing that would make him more Glaswegian is if he wore a ginger wig to conference and a tartan tam o'shanter.
It's obvious then, isn't it: The Boss is Irish.
Yeh, that's right: he loikes the craic, knows the words to Fairytale of New York backwards, kisses the blarney stone and appreciates the odd drop of the black stuff. Apparently there is some strong parental link to Donegal. And, to be fair, he tells everyone this in his broad Glaswegian accent. In fact, if you are out with him and you meet anyone with vague Irish connections, The Boss is likely to turn around and say: "He's my second cousin, twice removed on my great Grandfather's side".
Sean Bean? Second cousin. The Dubliners? Second cousins. Obiwanken O'bi? second cousin, likes the craic. And we accept this Irishness, even if he does come up with "Hoots, mon, it's St Patrick's Day, anyone fancy a wee dram?" now and again.
On Saturday, though, I got worried. It was international football day. Wales were humiliated 5-1 at home to Slovakia (they can't even beat HALF a country at home these days), England were held 0-0 by Macedonia (they can't even beat a sixth of a country these days) while the Republic of Ireland were beaten 5-2 by Cyprus (they can't even beat a country that spends most of its time in civil war).
But the one ray of light, the one shining example of British and Irish football, came from the Scots: those perennial underachievers who now have about three actual Scotsman playing in the entire Sunday pub League they call the Premiership north of the Border.
I arrive at The Boss's office to discuss the day's goings on and am confronted with a man in ecstasy, punching the air in delight because those hordes from north of the Border have beaten THE WHOLE OF FRANCE 1-0. "Brilliant, brilliant," he's shouting.
And this is where I think the identity crisis may come in.
"But you're Irish, aren't you, Jock?" I say (without the Jock bit, that would be going too far).
"Ok aye, I grant ye that, Laddie," he says. "But the wee genius who scored the goal plays for Celtic."

Very quiet day, still trying to recover from another busy Saturday. Withers and co are going to the Claro, but I don't go there - it's the wrong side of the tracks, plus the fact I upset a Cardiff City soul crew member (not a good idea) last New Year's Eve by trying to give him some advice on parenting. I didn't believe his idea that his 10-year-old boy would carry on his hooligan mantle as being the height of ambition for his offspring. I know, none of my business.
So settle down to cook some belly pork I've got.
One thing I like to do is cut the recipes out of the sunday papers and magazines now and again. This one I found in The Observer a few months ago with the extravagant claim it was chairman Mao's favourite meal and he instructed his chef's to cook it whenever he was in Beijing. I must admit, it tastes gorgeous.
What you need:
Four or five pieces of belly pork
half tin of water chestnuts
2 tablespoons groudnut oil
2 tablespoons white sugar
some thinly sliced ginger, complete with skin
1 star anise
2 dried red chillies
1 small piece of cassia or cinamon bark
A few lengths of spring onions.

What you do:
Plunge the belly pork into boiling water and simmer for four minutes. Cool off then cut into chunks.
Gently heat oil and white sugar in wok until the sugar melts. Then raise temperature until it turns caramel brown.
Add the water chestnuts and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes until they're a nice colour.
Add the chunks of meat and do likewise until they start to turn brown.
Add water to cover the pork, then put in the ginger, star anise, chilli, cinamon and salt. Bring to boil and simmer for 40 minutes.
Towards the end of cooking turn the heat up to thicken the sauce and add a good splash of light soy and another shake of sugar. Right at the end at the spring onions.
I served this on a bed of rainbow rice which is equally easy. Just rinse the rice then put it in a pan with some water. Not too much, just about an inch covering the rice. Add some salt.
Bring to boil and then boil until most of the water is absorbed by the rice.
Turn heat right down and put a lid on saucepan.
heat for 10 mins without removing lid then turn off but leave lid on.
Heat up oil in a frying pan.
Add about 3 tablespoons of chopped spring onions and cook for 30 seconds.
Then add chopped carrots, chopped ham, defrosted frozen peas, chopped red pepper and chopped mushroom.
Stir fry until colouring and the veg is cooking, then add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and some white pepper.
Give a few stirs then add 2 teaspoons sesame oil.
Remove from the heat and add to the rice, then return the mixture to the heat and heat through.

Pete's fitted the radiator on my bathroom wall at last. It looks good. Doesn't work, though. Roll on winter.
We went round The Tut for a couple of drinks to celebrate this piece of handyman excellence, then I returned to watch Spooks. It's suddenly dawned on me - this is just a complete British rip-off of 24 even down to some of the camera work. I still find I'm quite engrossed in it, though. Had some marmite on some lovely french bread I bought during my ridiculously expernsive trip to Sainsbury's on Sunday. I always say I'll take it easy and then go totally mad.
Also went back to the doctor's today. She asked if I exercise. About a hundred lengths of the swimming pool on two days early in the week, I tell her. You should exercise every day, she replies. "Well, I do walk to work," I say.
"Do you walk fast?"

That night I dream I'm in a 50km walk for charity. Spooky.


Patt said...


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