My husband’s a tiger. Oh yes. So at the least I’d have hoped to be a dragon. Unkind friends may be chortling at this point. But no, in the Chinese horoscope I’m an unglamorous rooster. It seems I don’t have a whole lot to crow about.
On one side of the kitchen scales I’m meant to be honest, bright, communicative, capable and warm-hearted.
But on the other, I’m eccentric, vain, selfish, narrow-minded and caustic. Well, Happy Chinese New Year to you, too.
One website I consulted said Roosters make good brain surgeons. Not the career path I chose, fortunately for the National Health Service. But I am quite good with knives. And forks. Even chopsticks at a push.
2014 is the Year of the Horse but after all the recent dodgy burger scandals I think we’re on safer ground today with pork. Yellow bean paste and red fermented tofu are available from Chinese food stores. If you can’t get them, a dollop of white or brown miso can substitute.
Char Siu Roast Pork
1 pork fillet, approx 450g
3 tbspn hoi sin sauce
2 tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp yellow bean paste
2 tbsp red fermented tofu
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tspn Chinese Five Spice powder
Mix all the marinade ingredients together, whisking in the red tofu. Turn the pork in the marinade and leave it to soak up the flavours for at least four hours and preferably overnight, turning it from time to time.
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.
Put an inch or so of water into the bottom of a roasting tin, put a rack inside and place the meat on the rack, reserving the marinade.
Roast for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, turn the meat, brush it with marinade and cook for a further 20-25 minutes or until the meat is cooked.
While the meat is cooking, reduce and thicken the remaining marinade in a pan on the stove, but make sure it cooks through as you’ve had raw pork marinating in it.
A bunch of spring onions, white parts trimmed and sliced at an angle into 2cm pieces, green tops sliced small
2-3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
A thumb of ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
3-4 pak choi, washed and split into leaves, larger leaves split in half lengthways
A dash of teriyaki sauce (I know it’s not Chinese but it works)
A handful of mushrooms, wiped and thinly sliced
Heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a wok. Add the garlic, ginger and white part of the spring onions and stir fry quickly for one minute.
Add the mushrooms and stir fry for one minute.
Add the pak choy and stir fry until wilted and the stems are cooked but still have some bite.
Add a dash of teriyaki sauce and stir, allowing it to bubble up briefly.
Cut the pork into thickish slices. Arrange the stir-fried vegetables on a dish, put an overlapping line of pork on top and drizzle with the reduced marinade (sorry, forgot to do this for the photo). Scatter with the chopped spring onion tops and serve.