Soy sauce, mirin, Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, ginger, garlic and stock, turn this inexpensive cut of pork into a highly flavorful, ultra-tender and mouth-watering meal.
To prepare the pork, place it into a large pot and cover with cold water. Add the spices and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Let simmer for about 20 or 30 minutes. This is to extract any impurities from the pork. Next, drain the pork and set aside while you begin the sauce.
Note: This step is optional. Alternatively, you can sear the pork and continue with the recipe as follows.
Preheat the oven to at least 200° F (95°C).
To start the sauce, finely mince the garlic, ginger, and shallots. Then measure out the rest of your mise en place.
Next, heat an appropriate-sized, oven-proof pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil, followed by the garlic, ginger and shallots. Let cook for a minute or two until softened and aromatic.
Next, add the soy sauce, mirin, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns and bay leaves. Then turn heat to low and proceed to the next step.
Place the pork into the liquid and then top up with chicken stock until the liquid reaches about halfway up the meat.
Next, bring the dish to a simmer over medium heat. Then turn off the heat and place into the oven.
Let the meat cook anywhere from 2 hours to 6 hours, or until fork tender.
This will depend on the oven temperature and how big the piece of meat was to begin with.
As the meat cooks, turn it at least 3 or 4 times during cooking to ensure both sides are able to exchange flavors with the liquid.
Once the meat is fork tender, you can serve it immediately. For the best results, cool the dish in an ice bath. Once cool, cover and transfer to the refrigerator. Let cool overnight to allow the flavors to mature.
Once the pork has chilled overnight, remove any excess fat from the dish. Then remove the meat from the bone and pull apart into big pieces. Set aside.
To finish the sauce, bring the liquid to a simmer. Use a slurry to thicken the sauce, if needed. Once you have reached the desired consistency, test for seasoning add then place the pork back into the sauce.
Place the dish into a warm oven to heat through. Once hot, serve with steamed jasmine rice and baby bok choy (see notes below).
*Pork Picnic Roast: is also sometimes referred to as pork shoulder roast, arm picnic pork or fresh pork picnic ham. If you cannot find this cut, you can substitute with Boston butt. This will be similar, but it does have a slightly different flavor.
**Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking wine. If you cannot find it, you can substitute with a bit of sugar instead.
You can also add a few tablespoons of oyster sauce to this as well to add a nice touch of saltiness to the final dish.
Suggested Side Dishes:
Steamed Rice: http://rouxbe.com/recipes/2074/text
Baby Bok Choy: http://rouxbe.com/recipes/68/text