Guys! I've made it to 100 blog posts! This milestone really crept up on me. I can hardly believe it, but I actually didn't realize it was coming up until I looked at the previous post and suddenly it hit me: post number 99, which means next post will be 100! I wanted to do something special, so I'm sharing an incredible recipe today. Ok, two incredible recipes! More on that below. But first I want to mention the other special thing I'm doing for this post (an idea a friend helped me cook up - no pun intended. really. - when I mentioned it would be my 100th blog post and that it had snuck up on me): giving my readers a sneak peek at what I'm thinking about for the next 100 blog posts. Check out the list here
What makes Curry Bi Hon so special? Well, it is unbelievably delicious, for one! And not offered on many restaurant menus for another. To make it at home is a bit time consuming, even labor intensive. But it is a labor of love. You will have it confirmed with your first bite. Where does this dish come from? Well, Bihon is the name in Singapore of a certain type of thin rice noodle which you may have heard referred to as Mei Fun or rice vermicelli noodles. They are thin and very long as well as slightly gritty. Their mildly starchy taste is a perfect vehicle for complex, aromatic curry powder, succulent shrimp and fatty, sweet roasted pork.
I prepared the pork in char siu style (roasted with five spice) and it really helped make the dish not only authentic, but extra delicious. Even though it takes a couple of days to make the roast pork I highly recommend it. Most of it is downtime anyway while the pork marinates (overnight) or does its thing in the oven. I used Momofuku's cooking method (found on Lucky Peach), but not their seasoning recommendations. Instead I made my own five spice powder. This will make enough pork for three to four separate dishes, depending upon how much char siu you like in your stir fries or fried rice. I cut it into roughly 1/4" slabs and froze them separately, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
Five spice roasted pork belly (char siu)
Makes 3 lbs
For the five spice powder:
2 teaspoons ground cloves
6 star anise
4 teaspoons toasted szechuan peppercorns*
2 Tablespoons ground anise seeds
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1. Grind star anise together with toasted peppercorns.
2. Pass through a sieve and mix with all other spices. Pulse in the spice grinder until everything is smooth and incorporated.
3. Transfer to a spice jar. It is now ready to use in cooking!
For the pork belly:
3 lbs pork belly
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons five spice powder
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1. Score the pork belly skin in a diamond shape. Salt and pepper both sides.
2. Combine sugar and five spice and rub one half of the mixture on each side.
3. Cover and marinate overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and lay the pork belly skin side down.
5. Roast at 425 for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 250. Cook for another 1 to 2 hours (I found 1.5 hours to be perfect to render down enough fat and still keep the pork tender).
6. Allow the pork belly to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Let it chill for at least a few hours before cooking with it, to allow the fat to solidify again so it will sear perfectly. Slice lengthwise as needed.
7. Reserve the rendered fat in the baking sheet and strain it into a freezer safe container. You’ll use this not only to saute your ingredients for curry bi hon, but also as a fat in any dish you’re going to use the pork belly in.
*toast them for about 3 minutes in a dry pan over medium heat
Curry Bihon (curry noodles with sauteed shrimp and char siu)
Makes 4 large servings
1 Tablespoon curry powder
7 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
1 ounce (approx 1 large carrot) julienned carrot
1 ounce (approx 2 stalks celery) julienned celery
1 ounce bean sprouts (mung beans)
2 eggs, beaten
1 package rice vermicelli noodles
2 Tablespoons rendered pork fat
1 thick slice char siu (five spice roasted pork belly), chopped
12 ounces shrimp, deveined
1 teaspoon neutral oil
Soy sauce, to taste
(optional): pepper, to taste
1. Assemble your mis en place: gather vegetables and heat your wok over medium heat. Use oil to cover the bottom of the wok, or spray with a nonstick spray. Pour beaten eggs into the wok, then twirl to spread eggs into a thin layer like an egg crepe. Lift outer edges of egg crepe and pour the excess raw eggs underneath. Do this all around and when there is little to no loose raw egg on top, flip the egg crepe and cook for another minute, or until it is not raw. Cool eggs and roll egg crepe up. Slice into ¼ inch slices. This will complete your mis en place.
2. With the heat under your wok still at medium, add 1 Tablespoon pork fat and ½ Tablespoon curry powder. Toast curry powder for one minute. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook for about 3 minutes, or until they begin to curl. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Cover to keep warm.
3. Fill a large bowl with hot water (hot, but not boiling) and soak the rice vermicelli according to package directions.
4. When the noodles have been soaking for about 2 minutes, add remainder of curry powder and pork fat to the wok toast the curry powder for 1 minute. Add carrots and celery and cook for about 3 minutes. Add scallions and cook for another 2 minutes. Add char siu and bean sprouts and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes. Add noodles and eggs, stir well to combine thoroughly and cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Serve topped with shrimp.