Saturday, June 27, 2020

Spicy Pork Kebabs

In 1983, Woody Allen released a favorite movie of mine called Zelig. Allen plays Leonard Zelig, a nondescript enigma, who, apparently out of his desire to fit in and be liked, unwittingly takes on the characteristics of strong personalities around him. 

Leonard Zelig is a metaphor for pork. With the exception of ribs, pork is a nondescript enigma that takes on the characteristics of strong spices surrounding it. Beef has a distinct and pronounced flavor. Pork, not so much.

But like Leonard Zelig, pork becomes a chameleon, able to change colors  by the spices and herbs that envelop it. As a cook, you can make pork into whatever you want it to be. So in this recipe, we're going to surround Leonard with really strong spices that will explode with flavor as they char over the coals. Damn, that pig be spicy!

1-3/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
2 limes: one for juicing; the other for serving wedges
1/4 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño 
1 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 small red onion, sliced, for serving

  1. Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag. 
  2. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeño and honey. Blend until the jalapeño and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse five times to bruise the spices and mix them in. 
  3. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  4. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat. 
  5. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  6. Serve the pork with the onion slices on top and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.

Wine pairing: Zinfandel

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

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