Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon and Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon

Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon

I’ve mentioned in other post how much I love my subscription to Bon Appetit.  When it arrives in the mailbox, I sit down and go through it page by page, dog-earing the pages with recipes I want to make.  The August issue has been particularly good.  When I saw this recipe for Vietnamese pork chops, I knew I had to try it.  I’ve been on a hardcore watermelon kick lately so the fact that the recipe included watermelon made it a slam dunk.

I’ve had bad experiences with pork chops in the past.  In my mind they’ve always been synonymous with ultra-dry, chewy stuff.  Yuck!  I am however, obsessed with Vietnamese cuisine so I thought this might be a good opportunity to give it a go and see if I could conquer my fear of making pork chops into packed dust.

As it turns out, August has finally delivered the cold, foggy San Francisco summer we warn prospective visitors about.  After the pork chops had marinated, I just couldn’t bring myself to descend into the misty, windy backyard and stand in front of the grill while they cooked.  The cast iron skillet came to the rescue and the results were absolutely amazing.

The best part of eating amazing food is sharing it with amazing people.  We shared this meal with one of our favorite people in the universe who does her research and arrived with an amazing dry Riesling that worked magic with the food.

This one takes a little preparation because you have to pickle the watermelon rind the night before, which for us wasn’t a problem because we’re up to our ears in watermelon rind at the moment.  It sound really weird, but believe me, it’s worth it.  Make this recipe and invite your favorite people to dinner.  You won’t be sorry.

VIETNAMESE PORK CHOPS WITH PICKLED WATERMELON

INGREDIENTS

PORK CHOPS

  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Sriracha
  • 4 1″-thick bone-in pork chops 
(about 2 ½ lb. total)

SALAD

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups trimmed purslane or arugula
  • ½ pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into pieces, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Pickled Watermelon Rind, thinly sliced

PREPARATION

PORK CHOPS

  • Whisk shallots, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and Sriracha in a shallow baking dish. Add pork chops and turn to coat. Cover and chill, turning occasionally, 
at least 1 hour.
  • Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Remove pork chops from marinade, scraping off excess, and grill until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  (I heated 1Tbsp of olive oil in a cast iron skillet and seared the pork chops on one side for 3 minutes, filled them and then transferred them to a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes until the temperature was 145 degrees.)
  • DO AHEAD: Pork chops can be 
marinated 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

SALAD

  • Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season with salt.
  • Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add purslane, watermelon, and Pickled Watermelon 
Rind; season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat.
  • Serve pork chops with watermelon salad topped with fried shallots.

 

PICKLED WATERMELON RIND

Pickled Watermelon Rind

Pickled Watermelon Rind

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds watermelon
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced, seeds removed if desired
  • 1 1″ piece peeled ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

PREPARATION

  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove 
tough green rind from watermelon; discard.
  • Slice watermelon 1″ thick. Cut away all 
but ¼” flesh from each slice; reserve flesh 
for another use. Cut rind into 1″ pieces. (You should have about 4 cups.)
  • Bring chile, ginger, star anise, salt, peppercorns, sugar, vinegar, and ½ cup water to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring 
to dissolve sugar and salt. Add watermelon rind and return to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, setting 
a small lid or plate directly on top of rind 
to keep submerged in brine, if needed.
  • Transfer rind and liquid to an airtight container; cover and chill at least 12 hours

WATERMELON GAZPACHO WITH FETA CREMA

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

INGREDIENTS

GAZPACHO

  • 1 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 English hothouse cucumber, 
 peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

CREMA AND ASSEMBLY

  • ¼ cup almonds
  • 2 ounces feta, preferably French sheep’s milk, crumbled (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • ¾ pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)
  • ½ English hothouse cucumber, peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • Olive oil (for serving)
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

Purée watermelon, tomato, cucumber, jalapeño, oil, and vinegar in 
a blender until smooth.GAZPACHO

  • Transfer gazpacho to a large bowl; season with kosher salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
  • DO AHEAD: Gazpacho can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

CREMA AND ASSEMBLY

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 8–10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can do this step in a dry small skillet over medium heat.) Let almonds cool, then coarsely chop.
  • Mash feta into sour cream in a small bowl until mostly smooth, then whisk in milk.
  • Divide watermelon and cucumber among bowls and pour gazpacho over. Top 
with crema and almonds, drizzle with oil, and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • DO AHEAD: Crema can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
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Five-Spice Ice Cream and Almond Cookies

5 Spice Ice Cream and Almond Cookies

From last night’s Chinese dinner party, here are two of the recipes that I have.  The 5 spice ice cream is really tasty and works extremely well with Darlene’s gingerbread cake — I’ll work on getting that recipe too.  The almond cookies were the also-ran of the desserts last night, but I’m actually really enjoying them today.  They practically demand that you brew some tea.  They’re very bossy cookies.

I found the recipe for the ice cream from the food network from everyone’s favorite Chinese chef, Emeril Lagasse.  Go Figure.  The almond cookies came from about.com.

Five-Spice Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds scraped
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 whole egg yolks

Directions

Combine the half-and-half, five-spice, vanilla bean, vanilla seeds and salt in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, then immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.

In a large bowl add the sugar and egg yolks and whisk to combine. Add the half-and-half mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, to the beaten eggs and sugar, whisking after each addition. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Transfer the bowl to an ice bath and stir frequently until custard is completely cool. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Pour the filling into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for churning time. Remove the ice cream from the machine and transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, about 8 hours.

Almond Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (can add up to 2 more tablespoons, if desired)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 30 whole, blanched almonds (one for each cookie)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter or margarine, shortening, and sugar. Add the egg and almond extract and beat until well blended. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. Note: The dough will be crumbly at this point, but don’t worry – that is what it’s supposed to be like.
  2. Use your fingers to form the mixture into a dough, and then form the dough into 2 rolls or logs that are 10 to 12 inches long. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (this will make it easier to shape the dough into circles).
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  4. Take a log and lightly score the dough at 3/4 inch intervals so that you have 15 pieces and cut the dough. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly greased cookie tray, approximately 1 1/2 inches apart. Place an almond in the center of each cookie and press down lightly. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  5. Brush each cookie lightly with beaten egg before baking. Bake for 15 minutes to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and store in a sealed container.