Day Twenty Seven: Oolong Tea Braised Pork Shoulder

17 Apr

We have a friend, Cory, who is also a meat lover and great cook. He’s like our summer camp leader when it comes to organizing the beach bbqs, and he is always throwing something good on the grill. Currently, he’s off living through an eternal summer down in Argentina. Smart move, given this winter we’ve had.

From his really, really rough life down there in sunny 80+ degree South America, he sent me a Twitter update from a local Thai restaurant up here, Drunken Monkey, with a potential dish for this challenge. The message was introducing some new dishes they were offering, including a particularly intriguing “Oolong Tea Pork”. They described it as “pork boiled in Oolong tea and marinated in soy, sake, mirin and rice vinegar”. Sounded good to me.

Oolong tea is great. The nice smokey aroma and flavor seems to naturally lend itself to cooking, particularly meats. While I’ve eaten foods cooked with tea, I have never made something like this before. I was pretty excited to give this one a try.

I wasn’t sure at first how I was going to do this, but knew I wanted to incorporate some of the tea in both the marinating and cooking aspects of the dish. As such, the marinade had finely ground tea in it, along with soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sherry and garlic. I’m not sure if this imparted more tea flavor in the meat or not, since it was cooked entirely in brewed tea and star anise pods. To finish, I added more tea to the remaining juices/liquids and some honey after the meat was done, and reduced this until it was thickened a bit.

The dish had a very interesting (in a good way) flavor – smokey and rich, with a hint of sweetness from the honey in the sauce. The anise itself was very noticeable as a scent, but not as much as in the flavor of the dish – very subtle, but I think very necessary to finish off the flavors. I served this alongside gingered white rice and a salad of red cabbage, carrots and green onions with a light sesame dressing.

I’d suggest giving this one a try, playing around with different teas (Lapsong Suchong or green tea might be equally as good).

Oolong Tea Braised Pork Shoulder

(Serves about 2)

  • 1 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp Oolong tea leaves
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups brewed Oolong tea (you may not use it all)
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 green onion, sliced horizontally

In a food processor, combine the tea leaves, 1 tbsp soy sauce, sherry, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar and garlic clove. Pulse until combined. Place the pork in a container (tupperware type or Ziploc bag) and cover with the marinade, rubbing all over the pork. Refrigerate, turning the meat occasionally, for a few hours. Remove from refrigerator and bring up to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a dutch oven, heat some oil over medium high heat. Add the pork and brown well on all sides. Pour in 2 cups brewed tea and add the star anise. Bring to a boil; cover and transfer to the oven.

Cook the pork shoulder until tender, about 2 hours (depending on size of shoulder). Check the pot every so often, and add more tea if liquid has been reduced.

When done, remove the pork and set aside. Add 1 cup of tea and the honey to the braising liquid; bring to a boil and reduce until it begins to thicken. Return pork to the pot and baste with the sauce. Place in oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, basting often.

Take pork out of the pot and let rest for about 10 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a gravy separator (or skim off as much fat as possible). Slice the meat thinly and place on serving plate; drizzle with the sauce.


6 Responses to “Day Twenty Seven: Oolong Tea Braised Pork Shoulder”

  1. Cory April 18, 2011 at 10:42 AM #

    Nice! It looks good, but normally we get Christian’s feedback…what did the big man think of it?

    • Kristina April 18, 2011 at 3:45 PM #

      Ha ha, you’re right! He liked it, definitely. Thanks for the suggestion for the dish. I think there is a lot you could do with this. How’s BA these days? Coming back for summer camp?

  2. Delyth April 18, 2011 at 5:28 PM #

    I came across your site while looking for a sweet and sour pork shoulder recipe. It’s an interesting blog. I too love pork shoulder but sometimes find I am at a loss how to create something more interesting with it. Your recipes are an inspiration. Thank you
    I thought I would share a link with you from my own blog.

    • Kristina April 19, 2011 at 8:08 AM #

      Thanks for the comment! It is a fun project for me, and is really making me realize that it is a versatile meat that can be used in lots of different cuisines. I’m glad you like it, and let me know if you try any of the recipes! And thanks for the link, I will check it out!

  3. Cory April 18, 2011 at 6:24 PM #

    I’ll be back on April 30th, but not for long. Looking forward to seeing everyone though.

    • Kristina April 19, 2011 at 8:08 AM #

      Well, we look forward to seeing you!

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