Since being back in London, I may not have seen my friends and family much but I have had the opportunity to go the Asian supermarkets on the Kingsland Road. It’s one thing I don’t miss about living in Italy - having all the ingredients I could even need within arms reach. My pantry cupboard at the moment is half Italian ingredients and then the other half is a combination or Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Korean ingredients! This is why I don’t want to be seen as someone who only sticks to one type of cuisine. Outside of the Italian culinary world, there are so many delicious and interesting flavours that I love to explore and learn about. For instance, this past weekend, I tried to make char siu pork buns and honestly it was tough! I did 3 attempts, each one changing a part of the recipe, I researched different recipes online and still I ended with flat buns. But, I am determined to get it right! Watch this space!
This also happened with these sweet and sticky pork loins. I have seen plenty of different kinds of recipes online but I wanted to make something that was my own. So after playing around with the marinade I found that this combination worked great! It’s really important to let the pork marinade for as long as possible so it takes in all the delicious flavours. You also want to get a good char on the pork and then it’s vital to let it cook through by reducing the temperature. This is also why pork loins work well as they aren’t super thick. I use my meat mallet to thin them out a little more and this helps with the cooking process.
I find that by adding an extra squeeze of honey onto the pork whilst it cooks helps to really get it sticky and also heightens the sweetness. And you want to reduce the marinade and have it as a dipping sauce - honestly it is DELICIOUS!
The pickled cucumber adds an element of freshness to this dish as the pork can be quite rich and the rice it is served with can also be a little heavy. So the pickled cucumber really works perfectly here. The longer you can leave it the better as it will continue to pickle as time goes on. If you want to add a kick to it, you can also add some fresh red chilli to the mix but I decided to keep mine very simple. If you don’t want to do ribbons, you can also just simply slice the cucumber, but I prefer to remove the watery middle.
So go ahead, give it a go and take yourself to food heaven with this incredible sweet & sticky pork and pickled cucumber.
Sweet & Sticky Pork with Pickled Cucumber
Prep time: 10 minutes + 1 hour marinating
Cook time: 10-12 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes + 1 hour marinating
3 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Dark soy sauce
1/2 Tsp Sesame oil
2 Tbsp Light brown soft sugar
1 Tbsp Honey + 1 Tbsp extra
1/4 Tsp Black pepper
2 Pork loins
2 Spring onions, finely sliced
1 Tsp Sesame seeds
2-3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/2 Tsp Sugar
1 Tsp White rice vinegar
1/2 Tsp Salt
To serve: Steamed white rice
In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and whisk well to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Place some baking paper over the pork loins and bash them with a mallet (or rolling pin, frying pan, glass bottle) to thin them out a little. Place into the bowl and coat with the marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge for 1 hour at least.
Meanwhile, prepare your pickled cucumber. Using a speed peeler, peel the cucumber until you reach the watery middle section. Do this on all sides and discard the centre.
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar and salt and then add the cucumber, stir to coat and set aside until you are ready to serve.
After an hour, place a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and when hot, add the pork loins - sear for 3-4 minutes. Allow to cook for a further 4-5 minutes. In the last minute, drizzle over some extra honey if desired for extra stickiness.
Remove and let it rest for a couple minutes before slicing. In the same pan, pour in the rest of the marinade and let it reduce for a couple minutes.
Serve the sliced with the pickled cucumber, steamed white rice. Drizzle over the reduced marinade and top with the sliced spring onions and sesame seeds.