Oh, hello kitchen! I’ve missed you! It was only one week but I am so pleased that you’re back with your working ovens, a stove top, and running water. You’re still a work in progress but as long as I can make food in you, I’m willing to overlook the cracks (and dust, bare plaster walls, dangly wires, lack of floor tiles, and temporary counter in a jaunty shade of red and green. It’s like Christmas every day in my kitchen right now.)
If it was just Paul and I, we would have lived on takeaways and restaurants for the week. Feeding a family of five is expensive enough at home let alone elsewhere, so I wanted to avoid this if I could. Some lovely friends took pity on us and had us over for supper, which was fantastic. I also, in a rare moment of organization, managed to fill the freezer with meals we could reheat easily.
I made some of my old standbys like spaghetti sauce and chilli, but I also discovered that meat in some sort of marinade seemed to improve over time in the freezer. I bagged up a metric ton of flank steak (bless you, Costco) with some soy sauce, Worcester sauce, Dijon mustard, oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic. Defrost it in the fridge 1–2 days before you want to cook it, then sear over very high heat for just a couple of minutes on each side. If you can’t get flank, skirt or rump will work just as well. Cheap and easy, and leftovers a’ plenty.
Char siu pork is another great freezer standby meal, and again, it just involves chucking meat in a plastic bag with stuff. There is a bit of preparation for the sauce, but you only need one pot – no cutting, no grating, no zesting. For little effort, you get tender pork covered in a sticky, deep, slightly sweet sauce. You can add a bit of heat with some dried chilli flakes, too.
This isn’t to say that we didn’t resort to Domino’s and microwaved hot dogs, because hell yes, we did. But these few “proper” meals were bliss and a bit of normality amongst the building rubble.
I served this in slices with cauliflower “rice” and some stir fried bok choi/pak choi.
Char Siu Pork
1kg/2½ lbs pork filet/tenderloin or belly (skinless)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsps vegetable oil
For the sauce
1 1/2 Tbsps honey
1 1/2 Tbsps hoisin sauce
1 1/2 Tbsps soy sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese wine
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Add all ingredients for the sauce in a pan over medium heat. Cook until it thickens and goes sticky. Let the sauce cool completely.
Add the sauce, vegetable oil, and chopped garlic to the pork and marinate overnight or bung it into the freezer.
To cook, barbecue for about 6–8 minutes on each side or place under a grill/broiler for about the same amount of time. Let the meat rest for 15 minutes or so before slicing. This is also ridiculously good cold the next day. Like we ever have leftovers.