Friday, March 20, 2015

Five Spice Pork Stuffed Betel Leaves with Drunken Grapefruit Sauce





     A Nice Noodle House Tapas Style Appetizer!      
     Asian chefs have been making appetizers that could be considered to be tapas for thousands of years.  Korean Banchan certainly qualifies as tapas.  Vietnamese light entrées and appetizers are often served as tapas size portions.  Chinese chefs have a list of petite portion traditional appetizer recipes that is a mile long. 
      
     Minced beef or minced pork stuffed herb leaves are part of Vietnamese cuisine and they are usually marketed as an appetizer.  Betel Leaves are in the Piper family of plants and they have a bitter spicy hot pepper flavor.  Betel Leaves have a few different symbolic meanings when used in cooking and this topic is interesting to research.  Betel Leaves do have medicinal value and they create a mild euphoric effect that is similar to tobacco.  
     There are two varieties of Betel Leaves.  One is thick and it is used for Betel Nut chewing.  The Betel Leaves that are used as an herb tend to be thin and delicate.  Both come from the same species of plant.   

     Spicy sour tangy flavor combinations are a recurring theme in Vietnamese cuisine.  Usually the sour tangy flavor is achieved with tamarind or lime.  
     Grapefruit creates a sour tangy sauce flavor that is slightly bitter.  Shaoxing Wine tastes like a good light sherry, but the flavor is a bit more complex.  Shaoxing Wine mellows the bitterness of the tangy grapefruit flavor in today's sauce.  A small amount of Agave Nectar adds a gentle balance of naturally sweet flavor.  
     
     Today's recipe is not really a western world style fusion tapas appetizer, because there is no marriage with European or new world ingredients, other than the Agave Nectar, which is part of Aztec cuisine.  Today's recipe is like the regional Asian fusion creations that are served at trendy restaurants in Singapore and Southeast Asia.  
     Singapore is the Asian Fusion Cuisine capitol of the world.  Many Singapore chefs create fusion recipe themes that marry the ingredients and cooking styles of several Asian regions.  Western world cuisine ingredients are not always part of the recipe.  

     Five Spice Pork Stuffed Betel Leaves:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer size portion!
     Step 1:  Place 4 1/2 ounces of ground pork in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Malaysian spicy sambal.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Divide the pork stuffing into 5 equal size portions.
     Roll each portion into a short cylinder shape that is about 3/8" to 1/2" thick. 
     Step 3:  Trim the stems off of 6 or 7 large Betel Leaves.
     Place 1 shaped pork stuffing on the narrow end of the betel leaf and roll it up!  Repeat this step, till all of the betel leaves are stuffed.
     Step 4:  Place the stuff betel leaves on a small roasting pan that is brushed with vegetable oil.
     Brush the stuffed betel leaves with vegetable oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan.
     Cover the pan with a lid.
     Step 5:  Roast in a 300ºF oven till the pork stuffing is fully cooked.  
     Keep the stuffed betel leaves warm on a stove top.

     Drunken Grapefruit Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 1 tapas portion!  This sauce has to be quickly made, just before serving, or the grapefruit supremes will completely disintegrate.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Sauté for a few seconds, till the ginger becomes aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of pink grapefruit juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Agave Nectar.
     Add 3 ounces of Shaoxing wine.
     Add 1/2 cup of light chicken broth.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped roasted red bell pepper.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 3 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Step 3:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Add just enough cornstarch and cold water slurry to thicken the sauce to a thin sauce consistency.  
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 2 to 3 pink grapefruit supremes.  (Supreme = whole wedge sections of citrus fruit that have the rind, membrane and seeds removed.)
     Simmer till the supremes are warmed.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

     Five Spice Pork Stuffed Betel Leaves with Drunken Grapefruit Sauce:
     Arrange the Five Spice Pork Stuffed Betel Leaves on a tapas plate, so they look nice.
     Spoon a generous amount of the drunken grapefruit sauce over the stuffed betel leaves.  Try to center the grapefruit supremes on top. 
     Use a channeling tool to cut a few wide strips of grapefruit zest.
     Garnish the stuffed betel leaves with the grapefruit zest.
     Garnish the plate with 2 betel leaves.
     
     This pork stuffed betel leaf tapas is tasty beyond belief!

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