In a container that will hold the pork loin, mix the sugar, salt, peppercorn and 6 cups water. Add the pork and cover with more water if necessary. Let brine overnight in the fridge. Remove pork and rinse. Pat dry and set aside. Clean out same container and mix the thyme, garlic, achiote, wine and oil. Add the pork and smother with the marinade. Let stand overnight, turning once. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove pork from marinade and wipe off excess. Season with salt and pepper. In a hot oven-proof skillet coated with canola oil, sear the pork on all sides until brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Go for an internal temperature around 150 degrees for medium. The pork should remain pink. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
For the 'tamales': Pre-heat a large casserole or stock pot. On a plate, mix the cumin, coriander, chile, pepper and sugar. Salt the pieces of pork and season well with the spice mix. Coat the pot with oil and brown the pork on both sides, about 12 minutes. Wipe out pot and coat again with oil. Brown the onions and garlic, about 8 minutes. Deglaze with wine and add the soy, chipotle, bay and cover with water. Check for seasoning. Bring to a boil and let simmer 4 hours until the meat is very soft. Carefully pull out pork and bay leaves. Blend the cooking liquid with a hand blender and check for seasoning. When pork is cool enough to touch, shred the pork by hand. In a large bowl, take 6 cups of shredded pork and mix with the rice, red bells, scallion whites and cilantro. Add the sauce, a small ladle at a time just to moisten the mix. Season and check. Lay the leaves shiny side down, and place 1 cup of filling on each. Wrap by bringing the bottom up first, fold in the sides underneath, then continue folding forward. The package should end up rectangular shaped. Place in a hot steamer for 10 minutes or until piping hot.
For the syrup: Heat a saute pan to medium heat and an coat with 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Brown shallots, garlic and ginger, about 5 minutes. Add hoisin and saute 3 minutes. Add juice and white pepper. Scrape into a blender and puree all. With blender running, slowly add oil until smooth and emulsified. Check for seasoning.
Plating: Zig-zag the hoisin syrup and chile oil. Sprinkle the scallion greens around. Place 1 tamale and slice open. Surround with the pork slices.
Note: This is a two-day process Wine Suggestion: Brouilly, Pisse Vielle, 1997 (chilled)
Copyright 1999, Ming Tsai, All Rights Reserved
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