- 1/2 pound shallots, peeled
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 star anise
- 4 cardamom pods
- 2 by 1-inch piece orange peel
- 3-inch piece ginger, sliced into matchsticks
- 2 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 fresh hot chilies, such as cayenne or Fresno, very thinly sliced
- Cooked jasmine rice or Indonesian Lemongrass Scented Coconut Rice, for serving, recipe follows
Puree the shallots into a smooth paste. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shallot paste and saute, stirring frequently, until lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to let the shallots get too brown or burn. If it begins to scorch remove from the pan immediately. Add the spice bundle to the pan and continue to cook briefly until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the pork cubes and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, browning on all sides. If necessary, saute in batches. Add the water, vinegar, tamari and sugar and stir well to combine. Scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and gently simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until about 3/4 of the liquid has evaporated and the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. Do not overcook the meat; it should be very tender but not falling apart. Remove the lid and raise the temperature. Bring the liquid to a rapid simmer, stirring gently to prevent sticking but not shredding the meat.
Continue reducing the liquid until there is a thick, chocolate colored reduction clinging to the pork, about 7 to 8 minutes. If there is excess fat in the pan it can be removed, although it is extremely flavorful.
Transfer the pork to a serving dish and allow it to rest until warm, 20 to 30 minutes. Garnish the dish with the chiles and serve warm, with cooked jasmine rice or the Lemongrass Scented Coconut Rice. This dish is even better the day after preparing it. Reheat meat in a small dish, covered, in a low oven.)
Indonesian Lemongrass Scented Coconut Rice:
- 2 cups jasmine rice
- 1 quart water
- 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, bruised with the side of a knife and tied in a bundle
- 1-inch piece ginger
- 5 fresh lime leaves
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon crushed peanuts, for garnish
In a 2 quart saucepan, add the rice and 1 quart of water. Scoop out any rice that floats to the top and gently swirl the rice in the water until it becomes cloudy. Drain the water and repeat the process several times until the water begins to run fairly clear. Leave the washed rice in the pot.
Add all remaining ingredients to the pot except the crushed peanuts. Stir well to combine. Make sure the aromatics are fully submerged in the rice.
Place the pot over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil, stirring to prevent any of the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The liquid will thicken slightly as it comes to a boil. Once the liquid boils, immediately reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Continue to cook until the rice tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow the rice to steam with the lid on for an additional 10 minutes.
Discard the lemongrass, ginger and lime leaves. Gently fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to a deep serving bowl. Garnish with the crushed peanuts. The rice may be served hot or just warm.