I am absolutely overjoyed as I write this post. More, because I cooked this dish is my own and when I began, I had absolutely no idea of how it would turn out. But look at the pictures and they will tell what a good job I did. I have written earlier on the blog on how pork is every Mangaloreans comfort food and no big or small occasion is ever complete without it. Though, pork chilli may sound an authentically Chinese dish but this one is genuinely Mangalorean. Let me make my case
Every Mangalorean wedding has an interesting function preceding it. This function is called ‘Roce’. For the seekers of the truth, this is a function held on the day before the actual wedding. This is where coconut milk and oil is applied to the soon-to-be- bride or groom; the bath following the ritual symbolizing the last bath as a singleton. It is a very fun event and I seriously recommend you to attend one if you happen to be invited. And yes, how can I tell you about a roce and not tell you about the food? In the olden days, when food was traditionally cooked at home usually consisting of rice, variety of vegetables along with mutton polov and pork chilly. It also depended on how much the host could afford. With the passage of time, the menus started getting creative and contemporary fare started showing up. Two things remained constant though, the mutton polov and pork chilly. Like friends, who had sworn to stand by one another through the test of time. I will do another post on the virtues of the mutton polov; for today, we shall focus on the pork chilly. Doesn’t the name ‘…… Chili’ make it sound it sound very Chinese. It does. For a while I too, was misled to imagining that this was another produce from across the border. But, I frankly haven’t seen this version being served anywhere else than a Mangalorean roce. The other thing is unlike other Mangalorean recipes, this one is not easy to find. I have found different versions as well; probably attribute it to the caterer. That made it difficult to ascertain one texture and base for the meat. After every roce, I’d come back home much more determined to try the pork chilli. With no proper recipe to back me, I knew I had to fend for myself to get this one right. The one that would make both the Chinese and the Mangalorean grannies proud. So I started researching for the recipe. On a recent trip to Mangalore, I even picked up a book, known to be the bible of Mangalorean cooking. A must have for every new Mangalorean bride. I was disappointed. The book didn’t contain the recipe.
Then, a few months back I went to another roce function. The pork chilli was there. This one was slightly different from the ones I had, there was something different. The texture soft and flavors though predominantly Chinese had that hint of extra chilli a typical Mangalorean trait. This not only gave it that extra bite but served as a nice cushion against the crisp but superbly cooked meat. For me, it was the dish of the day. I walked up to the caterer and complimented him firstly putting up a winner. I then quizzed him on the texture and cooking. Thankfully, unlike other Mangalorean aunts who hold their recipes close to their chest, he was pretty fort right and told me that he preferred baking the pork for some time to give it that contrast in textures. Another trick he told me is to get meat with some fat; that would help in marrying the flavours.
With a base to begin, I was now looking at the opportunity to cook. I thought it would be nice if I could marinate the meat for a while. I love the aroma of marinating meat. It somehow takes the flavors of the meat to another level. Marination done, I carefully laid the pork pieces on a baking tray and aligned the settings. Twenty minutes down and the house almost smelt divine. Baking the meat proved to me a master stroke. Later, as the bits started falling into place (or should I say into the gravy), I realized that this was that one dish I had been waiting for. I guess, I more or less made it the the caterer.
Dinner that night was bliss. Pork to me is not sorpotel or vindaloo anymore. As I ate, I recollected something I read. It said that the poet and pig are appreciated only after their death. Not sure about the poet, but i can surely agree about the pig.
- 500 grams pork, cut into bite sized cubes- Refer note below
- 120 grams bell peppers, cubed - Suggestion is use 1 each of green, red, yellow
- 1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 2 green chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon, red chilli paste
- 1 teaspoon, white pepper powder
- 4 tablespoons, tomato ketchup
- 4 tablespoons, soya sauce
- 2 tablespoons, oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons, vinegar
- 2 tablespoons, oil
- 1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with 70 ml water to make a slurry
- Salt- to taste
- Wash the meat and pat it dry. In a bowl, whisk together half the soya sauce, vinegar, white pepper powder and some salt. Add the meat to this marinade and mix well. Make sure the meat pieces are well coated with the marinade.
- Preheat the oven to 100 C
- Line the meat pieces on a baking tray and bake in a the oven at 180 C for 40 minutes. Depending on the type of your oven, you may need to increase or decrease the baking time. But, generally 40 minutes is good enough. Once meat is done, remove and keep aside to cool.
- Heat oil in a pan on a medium flame. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and saute till garlic has turned brown, but not burnt.
- Add the onions along with the greens with and saute for a minute.
- Now, add the red chilli paste and give it a good mix. If the paste is sticking to the pan, sprinkle a few drops of water.
- Add the tomato ketchup, remaining soya and the oyster sauce and mix well.
- Now, add in the bell peppers and coat them well with the gravy.
- Lastly, add the pork pieces, salt and mix well.
- Now, add the cornflour slurry and give it one last mix.
- Garnish with spring onion and serve hot with fried rice
Note on cooking the Pork:
- The quality of the meat plays a very important role in its cooking. Always take the best cut of meat from a trusted butcher. Secondly, depending on the quality of the meat, you may be required to boil the meat in salted water for about 15 minutes. If so, reduce the baking time by 10 minutes.