Tuesday, March 01, 2005

a secret pot

i was always skulking around in our kitchen, lifting lids and sniffing pots even as a very small child. the cook-of-the-moment (my mom was a very meticulous employer, so we had quite a succession of cook-nanny-helpers) was always shooing me away. i almost always found a little pot of mysterious stews, my mom's personal stash of pinakbet, dinengdeng, bulanglang, which was not served with our dinner--just for her. i think it was because she knew we wouldn't eat it but she had to have some.
now i have my own secret pot: those dishes i know the husband and kids won't want but i must have. this is one of them...

pork with black pepper, garlic, and fish sauce,a Cambodian recipe which i learned from tv's Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith, back in the days when i had the firstborn son. and had to sit a lot while nursing him...
this is a very spicy and hearty fishy dish. add more or less peppers as you wish. (sometimes i add sliced fresh green long sili right before removing from heat.)

crush 3 large cloves of garlic with 1/2 tbsp. of peppercorns. saute in hot peanut oil. add 3/4 lb. pork butt, cut into cubes and about 1/3 cup of smashed cilantro roots or stems. stir fry until pork is browned. add 4 or more, according to taste, dried red chilies. add 2-3 tbsps. of Vietnamese fish sauce and turn down heat to simmer. cook until pork is tender, adding 1/4 cup of water at a time if it dries out too quickly. serve with sprigs of cilantro and a squeeze of lime. and hot jasmine rice.

...and i will offer the kittens a bite now and then so it won't have to be my secret pot anymore (husband doesn't eat cilantro!).