Friends and relatives have been good to me during my 50 Countries Challenge. They regularly offer up recipes from countries they've visited, tasted cuisines from, have neighbors that originated there, or are from that country themselves. I welcome these recipes with open arms, because god knows it gets tiring trying to suss out recipes on my own all the time.
I found it very amusing that friend TJ (a scholar on all things South African) sent me a South African BBQ chicken recipe, and that my (VERY soon-to-be) sister-in-law, Angela, who hails from Taiwan, sent me a recipe for Chinese BBQ pork. As summer is winding down and my friend Gus (a grill master) just moved to town, I figured there would be no better time to have a barbecued meat SMACKDOWN.
China versus Mozambique! *ding ding*
Angela is an amazing chef. She's one of those whirlwind types who can manage 7 dishes at once without breaking a sweat--and then everything tastes great. Oh, and did I mention she's also brilliant and beautiful? I am lucky to be marrying into a family with that type of lady. :)
Anyway, knowing this about Angela, I was very excited to receive this recipe. I'd heard about Char Siu before on various cooking blogs, and thought it looked great. It has such a beautiful dark red hue, and shines in a way that you know the outside is crunchy, but the inside is tender and melty. Mmm.
I had to make some adjustments to the recipe. Namely, once I got the idea in my head to grill both meats, I couldn't be shaken. But then I read the recipe, and found that you're supposed to use a pork tenderloin and roast it. Well, that didn't work with my plan at all! I read up and found you could use pork spare ribs on the grill, but you had to use indirect heat and cook them for an hour. ....That didn't really work either, as I was trying to cook two things at once. So, I settled on 'country-style pork ribs'--boneless. Just like chicken breasts! I said a hail mary and hoped everything would work out.
Chinese BBQ Pork - Cha Shao Rou (from Angela)
-1 pork tenderloin, with a few very light cuts made, taking care not to cut through the meat (**Or, if you're feeling crazy and non-traditional like me, you can use the country-style pork ribs.**)
-3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
-1/4 cup Chinese soy sauce
-2 tablespoons brown sugar
-4 slices fresh ginger
-2 sticks of green onions, smashed and cut into long pieces
-1 tablespoon rice wine (you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon brandy or whiskey)
Sauce for brushing pork during grilling/roasting:
-1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
-1 tablespoon honey or blue agave
1. In a sealed ziploc bag, place pork and all marinade ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 350. Place pork on a rack sitting in a baking pan with some water and a few drops of liquid hickory smoke. The water should not reach the rack. Bake the pork for 20 minutes. Brush the pork with the sauce on both sides and flip the pork. Continue to bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven to 400 and bake for 15-20 minutes until the pork is well done. It may take more or less time, depending on your oven and how thick the pork is. You will need to check to make sure it's not bloody or pink. The surface should be shining and sizzling.
2a. OR, if you're grilling, build a medium-heat charcoal fire. Cook over direct heat for about 30 minutes. Gus says to put the back of a bent finger on the meat--if the meat is unbearably hot to the touch, it's done.
3. Cool the pork for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve. Enough for 2 adults and 2 kids. :)
Peri Peri Chicken (see also "Piri Piri") - from TJ / Allrecipes.com
-1/4 cup paprika
-2 tablespoons hot chili powder (**NOTE: I wasn't sure what this meant, so I used 1 tablespoon cayenne, 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper, and 1/2 tablespoon chili powder)
-1 cup fresh lemon juice
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-4 bone-in chicken breast halves (**NOTE: I used boneless-skinless. It was fine....and probably a lot easier to eat.**)
1. In a large bowl, stir together all marinade ingredients. Rub chicken with the mixture. Place in a dish or a large ziplock bag and marinate 3 hours.
2. Preheat a grill for medium heat.
3. Place chicken onto the grill and discard the marinade. Cook about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is slightly charred and juices run clear.
I know you're all on the edge of your seats. Our very clear TKO Black Belt Champion was.... CHINA! Man. That recipe was a complete and utter WINNER. The flavor was complex, tantalizing, and addictive. The boneless pork ribs worked really well on the grill. Oh! And the best parts were the ends of the ribs...so crunchy and packed with flavor. Dear lord. Anyway, it was a unanimous vote for China. Angela, we thank you for your delicious recipe that so sated our bellies.
This is not to say that Mozambique's recipe was without its merits. We all agreed that if China's recipe hadn't been present, there would be no argument that it was tasty barbecued chicken. We also thought that it would be best served shredded, in some sort of delicious fried (or otherwise flavorful) rice.
A very special thanks to our Grill Master Gus. He presided over that grill like a referee presiding over Ali and Frazier.