4th April 2016 Debra

One batch of minced pork, four recipe ideas

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Add a grating of ginger to a mound of pork mince and fire up these four meals: barbecued skewers with a peanut dressing; a courgette noodle and meatball miso broth; a sweet chilli banh-mi and crispy pork noodles.

Pork mince is a fantastic and versatile product. Often overlooked for its beef equivalent, it can provide a welcome change in the kitchen. A good butcher will mince the cuts that you want, so you can ensure that you get the quality, flavour and provenance you want.

To make your pork and ginger mix

Pork with ginger is a great combination and works really well for the recipes below, which use pungent and aromatic sauces and herbs to elevate the sweet pork meat.

Makes 1kg
100g fresh breadcrumbs
100g milk
1kg pork mince
50g fresh ginger, finely grated
6 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
4 spring onions, finely sliced
½ bunch coriander, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper

1 First, soak the breadcrumbs in the milk. Gently mix all the other ingredients with the pork mince and fold together with the bread and milk.

2 Divide the mix into the amounts needed for the following recipes and wrap them into tight clingfilm logs. These can then be labelled and left in the fridge or put in the freezer for future use. Providing the mince is fresh, the mix should last for 2 days. Resting for a time allows the flavours to mingle and intensify.

The succulent skewers: Pork skewers with peanut and coriander dressing (main picture)

Cooking these on a griddle or barbecue is ideal, as you get a great mix of textures and flavours; the fatty pork crisping in some areas and almost burning in others. Serve with steamed rice. You’ll need 8 wooden skewers.

Serves 4
400g pork and ginger mix
100g crunchy peanut butter
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
½ lime juice
¼ cucumber, finely diced
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
A handful of coriander, chopped
50g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Steamed rice, to serve

1 Divide the pork meatball mix into 8 50g sausages and put on the skewers. Flatten them out with your hands until about 1cm thick, then set aside.

2 Reserve half the coriander and roasted peanuts, then mix all the other ingredients together to form a loose dressing. Use a little water to reduce it to a pouring consistency.

3 Put the pork skewers in a hot griddle pan or on a barbecue over a high heat. Allow them to crisp up on one side for 3-4 minutes, then gently flip over and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

4 Serve over steamed rice, drizzled with the peanut and coriander dressing. Garnish with the reserved coriander and chopped peanuts.

The fragrant broth: Pork and ginger meatballs with courgette noodle and miso broth

Miso adds a deep, savoury flavour to this simple broth, complementing the sweet and aromatic pork balls. You can usually find small packs of miso in Asian supermarkets, which are ideal for this recipe.

Serves 4
3 courgettes
480g pork and ginger mix
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 litre light chicken stock
80g dark miso paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 sheet dried seaweed/nori , roughly chopped

1 Wash, top and tail the courgettes. Using a Japanese mandolin with the julienne blade attached, carefully slice the courgettes lengthways to make “noodles”. Alternatively you can use a peeler to make ribbons, then slice lengthways with a knife. Set aside.

2 Roll the pork and ginger mix into 12 x 40g balls, then lightly flour. In a heavy-based saucepan over a high heat, brown the meatballs in the rapeseed oil. Allow them to colour on all sides, then pour in the chicken stock.

3 Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Let the meatballs steam for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, then add the miso paste and soy sauce.

4 To serve, put the courgette noodles into 4 bowls, portion out 3 meatballs into each and pour over the broth. Finish with the chopped spring onions and seaweed.

The satisfying sandwich: Pork banh-mi with pickled red cabbage and sweet chilli mayo

The pickled red cabbage cuts through the rich mayo and livens up the fresh vegetable ribbons in this Vietnamese inspired sandwich.

Serves 2-4
100g caster sugar
100g red wine vinegar
200g water
4 star anise
¼ red cabbage, very finely shredded
100g sweet chilli
100g mayonnaise
½ cucumber
1 carrot
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
250g pork and ginger mix
1 fresh baguette
A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
A handful of basil, leaves picked

1 First, make the pickle. Put the caster sugar, vinegar, water and star anise in a pan and bring to a boil. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add the shredded red cabbage and leave to sit for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. When ready to use, drain and lightly squeeze the red cabbage and remove the star anise. The pickle solution can be reserved and used as a flavour enhancer for sauces or dressing, if desired.

2 Combine the sweet chilli and mayonnaise, then reserve. Peel the cucumber and carrot into nice long ribbons. Set aside.

3 Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy-based pan to a high heat. Fashion the pork mix into four thin patties, then fry until crisp and brown on both sides. Transfer to a chopping board and roughly chop into 1cm pieces.

4 Slice the whole baguette almost in half, leaving a hinge. Pile the pickled red cabbage, fresh cucumber and carrot ribbons into the baguette, then put the chopped pork on top. Generously drizzle over the sweet chilli mayo and garnish with coriander and basil leaves. Close the monstrous sandwich up and divvy up.

The speedy supper: Crispy pork egg fried noodles

This is a really quick and easy dinner for two – comforting and rich. Using ready-to-serve noodles feels a bit like cheating, but it’s cheaper and tastier than a takeaway, so who cares? I cover mine in sriracha and crispy chilli to really warm myself up.

Serves 2
250g pork and ginger mix
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 eggs
300g straight-to-wok udon noodles
150g broccoli, finely shredded
3 tbsp soy sauce, to taste
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 Break the pork and ginger mix into rough 1cm pieces and toss in the flour. Get a wok or large frying pan very hot, then add the oil. Put the mini meatballs in and fry until they are golden brown and crispy.

2 Push them to one side of the pan and break in the eggs. Scramble the eggs around a bit, allowing them to cook.

3 Add the noodles and broccoli, then stir-fry until hot. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil, then remove from the heat. The pan should be a big, delicious-looking mess.

4 Divide into two bowls and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and spring onions.

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