|My at-home version of Salt and Pepper Pork Chops - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
But back to the original point -- why is this version of a pork chop superior to the typical Sunday night dinner Mom used to make? For one thing, it's cooked just perfectly, not overcooked by the fear of trichinosis. My own Wasabi Mom admits she erred on the side of caution and rubbery meats when preparing the swine, so Pork Chop Night was never one of my personal favorites. And food is so often under-seasoned, but a really good salt and pepper pork is savory and a little sweet from the marinade, peppery of course, and it has that extra warming heat of the Szechuan peppercorns, which linger on the palate. It's good all on its own with rice, and it's just a basic, simple meal, but the preparation of the meat is what really delivers it as something you truly crave. And a crispy outer coating certainly adds to its charm.
|Toasted salt and Szechuan peppercorns are pure magic - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Pan-fried crispy goodness - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Things I learned from this experience -- I need a spice-dedicated coffee grinder or spice mill, as doing the mortar-pestle thing with toasted whole spices just sucks. It never gets milled as finely or evenly as you want, and you inevitably wind up with a surprise bite of a too-large piece of whole spice. So, on my Note To Self, save that 20% Bed Bath and Beyond coupon that they keep sending every month and I keep throwing away -- I can probably find a basic grinder there. Another thing -- get the giant box of corn starch in the baking aisle, as it's proving its worth beyond a little sprinkle now and then to tighten up sauces.
|Mmm... CHOMP! Can't wait for pork chop night again - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Salt n' Peppa (No Spinderella) Pork Chops
4 bone-in pork chops (boneless is fine, the ones I used still had the bones in 'em)
3-4 tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil, just enough to coat the bottom of a wok, and pan-fry
for the marinade:
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 tablespoon black vinegar (can use balsamic as a substitute)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
for the dry coating:
1 cup of cornstarch
¼ cup of flour
2 teaspoons of finely-ground toasted Szechuan peppercorns and salt
Toss the pork chops in the marinade and let it soak in the refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours. When ready to cook, remove the marinated pork chops from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to take the chill off.
Combine the dry coating ingredients in a shallow tray to make it easier to coat each pork chop and transfer to wok or pan. Heat up a wok or heavy-bottomed pan to medium-high. Add oil to vessel and let it come to cooking temperature. Dredge each pork chop in the dry coating, making sure it's evenly covered, shaking off excess. Carefully place dredged pork chops into pan, being careful not to overcrowd -- two at a time is enough, depending on the size of your cooking vessel.
Keep the heat at medium-high or medium, just enough to brown the meat evenly, but not burn. Keeping the bone in the pork will increase cook time, so it will need more time in the pan. When the meat is cooked through (use a thermometer if you're not sure), set each pork chop on a plate lined with paper towels to drain and rest. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to finish before serving.