Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chew on this - Pork on the plate...

I had my pork party planned well before I went to Singapore. I was so pleased with myself for thinking up the idea! It had all the elements of my idea of a perfect evening. Fabulous food at ehe centre, with Theyie giving us our first taste of a Naga style pork meal and me providing the rest of the courses with ingredients - culinary souviners I picked up from a recent trip to Singapore. Factor in an interesting mix of foodie friends united by their love for pork, music by the OH and Rum and coke to wash it all down with and were set!

For those of you who love pork and wish to rediscover and relish this surprisingly lean red meat take a pork pilgrimage to Singapore, a promised land for food lovers and home to some of the most delectable pork dishes conjured by Asians.

A bowl of Bak Kut The for instance. An utterly mouth-watering Chinese soup whose name literally translates to mean ‘meat bone tea’. Bak Kut The has become immensely popular in Singapore. So much so that this soup even has its own district, the Balestier area which is packed with stalls that specialize solely in bak kut teh. A dish of pork ribs simmered in herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, garlic and star anise Bak kut the was brought to south east asia by migrant Chinese, but different stories alternately credit the Hokkien and the Teochews (different Chinese linguistic groups) for introducing it. Singapore with its myriad Chinese communities offers three main versions of Bak kut the. Teochew, the most common, is a lighly coloured and strongly peppered version. Holko or the Hokkien version is saltier and darker because more soy sauce is added and then there is the Cantonese version that includes medicinal herbs and is therefore more strongly flavoured. Usually eaten with rice, it is washed down with Chinese tea because it is believed that the tea dilutes the substantial amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish.

For many years now, a highlight of visitng Singapore for me was the prpect of tucking into some delectable Pork dishes. With Pork suffering so much bad press lately, what with swine flu snd all, Singapore with its high standards of hygiene offered a safe place to eat this much maligned meat! Untill I met Theyie, A Perfect Bite's resident Mad about Meat member! Through her I discovered that one could eat buy and eat fabulous Pork here in Mumbai as well. From Theyie I also learned that Pork goes beyond Vindaloo and Sorpotel in India. Good news for those who can’t take the trip to Singapore!

As Theyie cooked the Pork with Bamboo shoot for our Pork Party she regaled me with other Pork dishes from the North East. "The Khasis of Meghalaya have an extraordinarily delicious cold pork salad called ‘Dohkklieh’. Best when the portions are hocks and trotters, the pork is boiled then tossed with onions and chillies. The Sikkimese also make a lovely pork leg pickle or Khuta ko achar. And anyone who prefers to choose their pork directly from the butcher must visit the meat market at Bara Bazaar in Shillong once in their lives. One thing that is universally acknowledged among pork lovers in the North East is that Shillong pork is clean and that the butchers can carve the desired cuts exquisitely. ‘Dohneiiong’ is another Khasi pork dish, this time served hot in a gravy of black sesame seeds that gives the pork a rich, nutty flavour.

And then she came to her home state of Nagaland, and there was a gleam in her eye as she continued "Nagaland can also proudly stake a claim to the title of India’s Pork Capital. The amount of pork consumed in this state is astounding; the numbers unfortunately not available because people are too busy eating to count. The Sema dish, Awoshi kitiki eno Axone, a thick stew of smoked pork in fermented soya bean is on its way to becoming an iconic Naga dish. Other close contenders are the Lotha tribe’s pork with fermented bamboo shoot and the Ao tribe’s Pongsen or pork cooked in bamboo.

In fact I know for a fact that the Southern part of india also has some fabulous pork dishes. I remember eating the fabulous Pandhi Curry with Kaddumbuttu on a trip to Coorg a long time ago. Pork lovers out there please throw light on more Pork dishes and where to find them so that the next time, all of us pork lovers are tired of all the bad press pork gets, we can defend our favourite lean red meat by digging in! If not by traveling to Singapore, than by visiting our very own North East or failing that, by getting some mouth-watering vindaloo right here in Mumbai. As Theyie says "Nutritious and utterly scrumptious, this meat can survive bad press. The proof is in the pork!."

Links and GYAN

Fellow food blogger The Knife, blogs about the pristinely porcine evening we had on Friday night over on his blog.... Finely Chopped: 'A Perfect Bite' of pork and a magical evening at Rushina's


Happy Fork said...

how interesting!

Hemant Trivedi said...


Very interesting and truly dedicated article in Pork.

By the way, I want to remind you (nudge)about U-MOROK , the hot pepper from Manipur/Nagaland.

When can you get hold of some seeds of U-MOROK ?

I would be much obliged.

Hemant Trivedi

Shanu said...

I'm a Big fan of Pork too..
Pork is a staple diet in my Hometown Mangalore (Karnataka).
Some of the dishes worth trying are
Pork Bafat & Mangalorean Pork pickle.
Pork Kaliz Ankiti is a Mangalorean version of Sorpotel.