Eric Akis: Chinese-style barbecued pork enhances cabbage and corn soup

Eric Akis

The pelting rain late last week got me in the mood to make a pot of hearty, comforting soup. I had B.C.-grown savoy cabbage and corn on hand and decided to build a soup around them, Asian in style.

I wanted it to be filling enough to serve as a main-course, so I also added some sliced, cooked meat to it, Chinese-style barbecue pork. You can buy pieces of that sumptuous pork in Victoria’s Chinatown and at some Fairway Market locations offering prepared Chinese food.

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Or, you can do what I did; make the barbecue pork yourself. And after it was marinated, roasted, cooled and sliced, I made the soup.

The process began by me sautéing onions, ginger and garlic in a soup pot. Chicken stock, chopped cabbage, fresh corn kernels, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili sauce were then added and the soup simmered 10 minutes. In went the sliced pork, it was heated through, and then sliced green onions and chopped cilantro were stirred in.

The end result was full of flavour, aromatic soup that helped take the dampness out of that rainy day that I made it. My recipe for it yields four generous servings. If that’s too many for you, any leftover soup, once cooled, could be frozen for another time.

Cabbage Corn Soup with Chinese-style BBQ Pork and Ginger

B.C. grown cabbage and corn soup flavoured Asian-style, with such things as ginger, sesame oil and chili sauce. The slices of Chinese-style barbecue pork added to it makes it hearty and filling enough to be a main-course.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: about 25 minutes

Makes: four main-course servings

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 small to medium onion, diced

1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

2 large garlic cloves, minced

6 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock

4 cups savoy cabbage or sui choy (Chinese cabbage), cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup fresh corn kernels (see Note)

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp sriracha or other hot Asian-style chili sauce, or to taste

• salt, to taste

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

275 grams homemade or store-bought Chinese-style barbecue pork, halved lengthwise, and then thinly sliced, widthwise (see recipe below)

Place oil in a medium to large pot set over medium, medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about four minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook one minute more. Add stock, cabbage, corn, soy sauce, sesame oil and sriracha to the pot. Bring soup to a gentle simmer, and then adjust heat downwards to maintain that gentle simmer.

Simmer soup 10 minutes, and then taste and season with salt, if needed. Mix in the pork and let it heat through a few minutes. Now mix in the green onions and cilantro, let them heat through 30 seconds, and then serve.

Note: One large shucked cob of corn should yield the fresh amount of kernels needed here. Use a sharp paring knife to cut the kernels off the cob. If desired, frozen corn kernels could replace the fresh ones.

Chinese-Style BBQ Pork

Pork tenderloin, marinated in Chinese-style barbecue sauce, then roasted. Slice and add the pork to the cabbage and corn soup. It can also be used in other Chinese-style dishes, such as fried rice.

Preparation: 10 minutes, plus marinating time

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Makes: about 275 grams of cooked barbecue pork

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp ketchup

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp five-spice powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 (about 350 gram) pork tenderloins, trimmed of any fat and silverskin, halved, widthwise

Combine sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, vinegar, sesame oil, five-spice powder and garlic powder in a sided dish just large enough to hold the pork. Add pork and turn to coat. Cover, refrigerate and marinate the pork four to eight hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Set pork in the pan. Brush with the marinade left in the dish. Roast pork 20 minutes.

Brush pork with the juices in the pan, and then roast 15 minutes more, or until just cooked through.

Transfer pork to a plate and drizzle with pan juices. Let pork cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to slice and add to the cabbage and corn soup.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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