Pork Char Siu

Pork Char Siu

Pork Char Siu

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What’s your favourite Chinese dish? I can’t seem to narrow it down to just one but wor wonton soup and pork dumplings are definitely at the top of my list. I also enjoy dim sum with its array of steamed buns, rice rolls and dumplings. But today’s Pork Char Siu was made in preparation for wor wonton soup, which is soon to follow!! Wor, meaning “everything” in Chinese means the soup can be made with any combination of your favourite foods such as broccoli, baby bok choy, or shrimp. I personally believe that Pork Char Siu is a must to include. The sweet and salty meat is great together with the broth and vegetables and helps to make the soup a meal on its own.

Pork shoulder roast on a black cutting board with a bowl of marinade in the background in preparation for Pork Char Siu.

While wor wonton soup is one of my favourite ways to use Pork Char Siu, it’s also great in fried rice, ramen, or sliced and served with extra sauce over rice. Heck, cold pork buns are great too! The cooked pork freezes well in an airtight container for up to two months. Having three cooked pieces gives you Pork Char Siu for at least three meals if frozen separately. It makes for easy weeknight meals when you’re short on time and energy. Enjoy!

Reduced marinade in a stainless steel skillet ready to glaze the roasted pork for Pork Char Siu.
Pork Char Siu sliced and presented on a black cutting board garnished with fresh parlsey.

Pork Char Siu sliced and presented on a black cutting board garnished with fresh parlsey.
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Pork Char Siu

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 22 minutes
marinating and resting 1 day 10 minutes
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 52 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 pound pork shoulder roast
  • 5 tbsp honey, divided
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup sherry or Chinese Shaohsing Wine
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1/2 tsp red food colouring paste see note
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

Instructions

  • Trim pork shoulder of excess fat and cut lengthwise into 3 even pieces. Place pieces into a sealable bag.
  • Whisk together 3 tbsp of honey and the remaining ingredients. Pour marinade over pork and seal bag. Lay bag flat on a small tray or shallow baking pan and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, flipping at least once.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F and place rack in the middle. Line a baking tray with tin foil and parchment. Drain marinade into a shallow skillet and place pork onto the baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes, turn pork and continue baking for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tbsp of honey into the marinade and reduce over medium-high heat until it coats the back of a spoon, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Increase oven temperature to 350°F. Generously baste pork with sauce and bake for 10 minutes. Turn pork, baste and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Turn oven to broil and remove parchment paper from under the pork to the clean tin foil beneath (see notes). Baste pork and broil for 1-2 minutes, turn pork, baste and broil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes

-I used a food colouring paste, more food colouring may be required if using the liquid variety.
-Lining the pan with tin foil and parchment is important because the sugary drippings from the pork tend to burn when broiling.  Removing the parchment gives a clean surface for broiling.

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Crispy Wontons

Crispy Wontons

Crispy Wontons

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Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

I’m a PIG! At least that what my friend and co-worker Yanan tells me, and who knows the Chinese zodiac better than a person born and raised in China? It’s a lucky sign/animal Yanan tells me, but being called a pig certainly doesn’t have the best ring to it. However, I must confess I have been known to be a little piggish when it comes to food LOL! Today’s Crispy Wontons are inspired by Yanan and the upcoming Chinese New Year on February 12th.

Wontons wrapped three ways on a wooden cutting board demonstrating pork wontons for the Crispy Wontons recipe.

Yanan can make the best pork dumplings and steamed buns and has been my inspiration and guidance for this post. She is always willing to teach, lend a helping hand, and has a huge heart. I can say with some honesty that my wonton making has improved with her recommendations and practice from making this post. However, it will be some time, if ever, that I can proclaim to be a pro at Chinese cooking. I will at least say it is fun to practice!

Yanan and her family immigrated from China to Quebec, Canada in 1999. They had to learn French in a French-speaking province, find employment and make their way through endless challenges in a new country. Yanan was a teacher in China and already knew technical English, but learning Americanized English was a thing of its own. The slang, profanity and innuendoes still took some learning. The tones in the Chinese language are very prevalent when she is speaking English today. They provide a level of entertainment because her tone can change with each word, leaving you to wonder if she is being passionate, angry, or simply excited about something.

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

From Quebec, Yanan and her family moved across the country to the province of Alberta. She found employment with the Correctional Service of Canada and eventually became a co-worker of mine. She is a joy to me, and I consider myself lucky to call her a friend. Happy New Year Yanan!

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.
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Crispy Wontons

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 52 wontons

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese wine or sherry
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg wonton wrappers
  • as needed canola oil

Instructions

  • Line a large baking tray with parchment and fill a small bowl with cold water.
  • In a medium bowl add all ingredients except wrappers and canola oil. Mix gently until well combined.
  • Lay 8-10 wrappers on a flat surface. Place approximately 2 teaspoons of pork filling in the center of each wrapper. Moisten the outer edge of the wrapper with water using your fingertip. Fold the wrapper in half diagonally, pressing lightly on the edges to create a good seal. Dab both lower corners with water and bring both lower corners across and together pressing lightly to hold. It will look like a bishops hat. Place prepared wonton on the baking tray and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Keep the wrappers and prepared wontons covered with a clean damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
  • Attach a candy/high-temperature thermometer to the side of a large pot at least 9" in diameter. Add enough canola oil to come up a minimum of 3 inches. Heat oil to 350°F.
  • Carefully drop wontons into the hot oil, about 8-10 at a time depending on the size of your pot. Cook for 2 minutes per side until golden. Remove with a mesh/slotted scoop to a paper towel-lined tray. Repeat with remaining wontons, adjusting temperature as you go to maintain the 350°F.
  • Serve immediately with plum sauce, sweet chili sauce or a soy dipping sauce.

Notes

-Wontons can be shaped in a variety of different ways.  I like to use the simple folded triangle method which resembles a bishop's hat, however, any shape will work. Three varieties are shown in the post.
-Alternatively, you can use an electric deep fryer set at 350°F to cook the wontons.

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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

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Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza baked hot and bubbly and garnished with fennel fronds.

I say start the new year with pizza! Yes, that’s right, crispy, cheesy, flavour-packed Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza. We can not make just any pizza, it truly needs to be a cast-iron pizza to start the new year right. It creates the best golden and crisp underside that you’ll ever create at home, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making all your pizzas this way. Most new year resolutions include some form of healthy eating, but I think the new year (because it’s gonna be great) deserves full-on, carefree, in your face deliciousness. The sausage and fennel combination has not only become my new favourite, cooking it in a cast-iron pan tips it over the edge of my pizza nirvana. So move over plain ol’ pepperoni pizza… grown-up pizza just walked in.

A cast iron skillet full of of ingredients for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.
Pizza dough, marinara sauce and fennel ready for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.

With the new year upon us, we have no choice but to be hopeful for a more user-friendly year. Even though I can consider 2020 a good year, it hasn’t been without its frustrations, and for many people, it has been a year of hardship and heartache. While we can’t eat cheesy, sausage laden pizza all the time, it’s a good reminder to enjoy a few of the simpler things that we can. It’s also great fun to create homemade pizza at home with loved ones lending a helping hand.

All the best in 2021, let’s eat!

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.
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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Course Main Course
Keyword baked, cast iron, cast iron pizza, fennel, garlic, Italian sausage, mozzerella, olive oil, pizza, pizza dough
Cook Time 14 minutes
Resting time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ounces pizza dough homemade or store-bought
  • 8 ounces Italian sausage about 2 links, casing removed
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce homemade or store bought
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced plus fronds for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Set oven rack to its uppermost position. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  • Drizzle room temperature pizza dough with 1 tbsp olive oil and press out to a 10" round. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 10" cast-iron skillet. Add Italian sausage and cook over medium, breaking up any large pieces. Once cooked and slightly crisp remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • With the heat still on medium/low, immediately lay pizza dough in the pan, stretching out to the edges using a spatula or spoon if necessary. Top dough with marinara, then mozzarella, fennel, garlic and sausage. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and check the underside which should be starting to brown and crisp. Transfer pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 10-14 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and fennel fronds or fresh basil. Lift out of the pan and cut into wedges and serve.

Notes

-The dough will press out better on a wooden surface such as a cutting board as opposed to granite or super-smooth surfaces.
-I prefer a thinner crust and opt for 8 ounces of dough vs 10.  It is 10 ounces pictured in the blog.
-Makes one 10" pizza, however, a 12" cast-iron skillet would work too, just use the 10 ounces of dough.  There's plenty of topping, so there's no need to adjust unless you'd like more cheese.
-The original recipe from Bon Appétit suggests garnishing with fresh basil, however, I enjoy using fresh fennel fronds instead, but it's a matter of preference and both are delicious. 

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Pappardelle with Peas and Bacon

Pappardelle with Peas and Bacon

Pappardelle with Peas and Bacon

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Pappardelle with Peas and Bacon served on a wooden plate with dimly lit candles and a linen napkin in the background.

Pappardelle with Peas and Bacon is a great way to enjoy a satisfying bowl of creamy pasta without feeling bogged down with heaviness. It has a splash of cream, just enough to cling to the noodles and make it taste heavenly. The bacon is a must for a burst of salty, meaty texture to this dish, so it’s recommended not to omit it. The peas provide that fresh, earthy bite that makes this a pasta dish that you want to eat during the summer. It’s also a lovely way to use your fresh garden peas if you’re lucky enough to have them. You simply need to simmer your fresh shelled peas in lightly salted water for about 6-7 minutes until just tender and add to the pasta with the parmesan cheese at the end. It’s so good!

Ingredients for Pappardelle with Peas and Bacon arranged on a wooden plate garnished with fresh parsley.

Don’t have pappardelle pasta? No problem, I’ve made this recipe many times using fettuccini, linguini and penne rigate. I happen to enjoy it most with the pappardelle, but use what you have and enjoy!

Pappardelle with Peas and Bacon
Print Recipe
    Servings
    2 people
    Servings
    2 people
    Pappardelle with Peas and Bacon
    Print Recipe
      Servings
      2 people
      Servings
      2 people
      Ingredients
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a gentle boil.
      2. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp-tender. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined dish reserving a tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan.
      3. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving a cup of hot pasta water.
      4. Heat remaining bacon fat over medium-low heat and add garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until starting to soften but not brown.
      5. Stir in cream, peas and salt. Heat to a full simmer and allow to reduce for 1 minute.
      6. Reduce heat to low and stir in pasta, reserved bacon, parmesan cheese and parsley and toss until combined and creamy. Add a small amount of hot pasta water as needed to bring everything together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
      7. Serve immediately with additional parmesan cheese.
      Recipe Notes

      -Linguini, fettucini and penne rigate work well in this recipe if pappardelle is not available.  Simply substitute your favourite using the same quantity size as stated in the recipe.

      -Fresh summer peas are optimal in this recipe if you have them.  Simmer your fresh peas in lightly salted water for 6-7 minutes until just tender and add at the end with the parmesan cheese

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      Meaty Black Bean Chili

      Meaty Black Bean Chili

      Meaty Black Bean Chili

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      Meaty Black Bean Chili served in a shallow bowl with flatbread, garnished with cheddar cheese, green onions and cilantro.

      Meaty Black Bean Chili is my new favourite chili! For good reason too, it’s hearty and spicy with a punch of freshness from fresh cilantro added at the end. It also uses black beans, which is my favourite bean and they’re a great change from kidney beans. I also like the use of beef and pork for a meaty and hearty chili that is very satisfying. This chili is excellent for potlucks and back yard BBQ parties.

      Meaty Black Bean Chili in a cream coloured dutch oven resting on a navy kitchen towel and wooden trivet.

      Spicy heat is a personal choice for everyone and everyone gets an opinion on how hot their food should be. I don’t care for anything too spicy, and by that I mean, if I can’t taste the other ingredients because my lips are burning so bad, well, that ’s too hot for me. I find the spiciness in this Meaty Black Bean Chilli just right for my liking. It has a subtle spiciness that’s just enough to make me want to eat another bite with fresh cilantro and cheese to mellow the heat. But of course, this is just my opinion, so feel free to add more cayenne or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce if that suits your taste.

      Another great thing about chili is it’s even better if served the next day as the flavours and spiciness have more time meld. It freezes very well and can be kept in a sealed container in the freezer for 1-2 months. Enjoy!

      Meaty Black Bean Chili
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        9 cups 30 minutes
        Cook Time
        60 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        9 cups 30 minutes
        Cook Time
        60 minutes
        Meaty Black Bean Chili
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          9 cups 30 minutes
          Cook Time
          60 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          9 cups 30 minutes
          Cook Time
          60 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: cups
          Instructions
          1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground beef and pork and cook until no longer pink and starting to brown, breaking up any large pieces. Stir in minced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
          2. Scrape out seeds from the chipotle peppers and finely mince, use about two chili peppers with sauce to equal 2 tbsp or more depending how hot you want it. Add peppers to the pot along with beef broth, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, green pepper, onion, spices, salt, and sugar. Stir well to combine.
          3. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and adjust consistency to your liking by adding more beef broth or simmering uncovered for a few minutes to evaporate some liquid. The chili will thicken slightly as it sits and cools.
          4. Stir in black beans and cook for 1-2 minutes to warm. Stir in cilantro just before serving and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with cheddar cheese, green onion and additional cilantro.
          Recipe Notes

          -I found 1 cup of beef broth just about right for consistency.  Adjust to your liking.

          -This chili is even better when served the next day as the flavours have longer to meld.

          -Makes about 9 cups of chili and freezes very well.

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          Cheesy Pesto BLT

          Cheesy Pesto BLT

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          Cheesy Pesto BLT is grilled cheese and BLT sandwiches married together with vibrant pesto.  It’s the indulgent, adult sandwich for the kid in all of us.

          Cheesy Pesto BLT sandwich cut and stacked on a small wooden tray.

          I was recently asked by a friend and co-worker what he and his work crew could cook up with limited kitchen gear. Available was a frying pan, electric grill press and a toaster oven.  One of my first thoughts was a  grilled cheese sandwich.  But on second thought, who wants just a grilled cheese, other than a 5-year-old of course?  

          I sent him a recipe for a pesto grilled cheese because I knew the combo would be amazing and it got me thinking that it could be the start of something great. I knew I wanted to add some kind of meat, and plenty of chewy bacon was the answer for a heartier sandwich. And how can you not have bacon without fresh tomato slices and cool, crisp lettuce? They bring balance to the melty cheese and salty bacon which are wonderfully paired with the pesto.  So remember, grilled cheese doesn’t have to be “JUST” a grilled cheese. 

          Ingredients for Cheesy Pesto BLT arranged on a small wooden tray draped with a white kitchen towel.

          Truthfully, the kid in me loves that simple and traditional grilled cheese made with processed cheese slices, but I also love pesto and BLT’s, so it only made sense to put them all together into one delicious sandwich.  So don’t just think grilled cheese when graving crispy fried bread and oozy cheese.  Think Cheesy Pesto BLT!!

          Cheesy Pesto BLT
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            2 people 15 minutes
            Cook Time
            10 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            2 people 15 minutes
            Cook Time
            10 minutes
            Cheesy Pesto BLT
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              2 people 15 minutes
              Cook Time
              10 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              2 people 15 minutes
              Cook Time
              10 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: people
              Instructions
              1. Heat a non-stick stick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot.
              2. Butter the outside of each bread slice.
              3. Place the bread buttered side down in skillet and layer provolone evenly over two slices. Adjust heat to medium-low.
              4. Spread 1 tbsp of pesto evenly over the cheese and top with 3 slices of bacon each.
              5. Cook on medium-low to medium until bottoms are golden and cheese is melty. (I find medium-low best to melt cheese while not overcooking the bread)
              6. Remove grilled bread from pan and top the cheese side slices with tomato slices. Season tomatoes with freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste. Top with lettuce and remaining grilled bread.
              7. Cut as desired and serve immediately.
              Recipe Notes

              - You can use fresh or purchased pesto in this recipe.  I do recommend using fresh if possible like my Classic Pesto

              -Prep time is based on using pre-made pesto and pre-cooked bacon.

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              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com