There are some dishes that might seem wrong at first or will at least make you think, "wha?!" and that is exactly what I thought stumbling upon the Chi'Lantro truck in Austin. They had a dish of crispy fries topped with kimchi and bulgogi - three things I adore - but would never have put together myself. Unless I was still 23 and coming home late from a bar and it is all we had lying around. For the pub contest I immediately thought of this flavorful, perfect bar food snack. And then I thought of my favorite flavor combination this year: smokey tea pork (in some form or another) with sweet potatoes and, sometimes, shiitake mayo. This is not something I would eat for any old occasion. It requires a sporting event, a celebration, or, as we did for dinner tonight, small portions of the pork and fries with big piles of fresh broccoli. But the flavor combination remains this year's peanut butter and jelly...a decadent and happy-noise-making meal.
You can bake the sweet potatoes into fries or bake/mash them to lighten the dish. And I can report that wrapping up the pork, sweet potatoes, green onion, cilantro and a bit of the mayo in blanched kale leaves makes for a fabulous lunch the next day. Heck, I have even made it into pizza by mashing the sweet potatoes on cooked dough, topping with pork and a lightly dressed salad. —savorthis
boneless pork shoulder
medium onion, chopped
garlic cloves, chopped
fermented black beans, rinsed, chopped
Cut pork into large chunks and brown in batches in the pot of a pressure cooker (or large pot). Remove to a bowl and add onions, garlic, ginger and black beans to fat. Stir for a few minutes.
Steep tea in boiling water about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and add soy, maple syrup and sherry. Add to onion mixture, scraping up any brown bits on bottom. Return pork. If using pressure cooker, cook on high for about 20 minutes, then place in sink under cold water to release pressure. Otherwise, cover and simmer over low for about an hour and a half or until pork is very tender. Remove lid, crank up heat and reduce sauce to a glaze. When cool enough to handle, break/shred pork into smaller pieces.
If frying sweet potatoes: heat 2" of oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 375. Add a small batch of fries and cook until the edges start to crisp. Remove to newspaper or paper towels. Make sure heat is around 375 and add fries again until browned. It happens fast so pay attention. Drain on paper towels, then toss in bowl with salt, and a bit of cilantro and green onion. Finish cooking remaining sweet potatoes.
If baking: heat oven to 425. Toss sweet potatoes in a couple tablespoons olive oil, season with s&p and bake about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Mix mayo, mushroom powder, sriracha, soy and lemon, adding just enough water to make it drizzle-able.
Place a mound of fries on a plate, top with pork, a drizzle of mayo and an extra sprinkle of cilantro and green onion. Eat with a fork, right away.
If you don't have a group partaking in this dish, there will be leftovers. As mentioned, the pork is great over rice with something simple and green like broccoli or kale. I usually freeze a packet or two for later. You can also use ribs: baby back, spare, boneless country...the possibilities are endless!