Friday, March 19, 2010

Belacan Pork Loin with Sambal Asparagus

As a follow on to my previous blog post of making sambal belacan, here are a couple of dishes that are easy to make and utilize the same ingredients. First, the belacan pork loin, a variation of the more common belacan chicken, a dish that I enjoyed throughout my childhood. All you need to do before cooking the pork loin is to marinade them in a mix of the following:

2 teaspoons of belacan (toasted and grounded)
2 eggs
1 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

To replace rice flour, regular all-purpose flour can be utilized as well but the outer coating surrounding the pork would not be as light and fluffy. Also, no salt is needed as the belacan is pretty salty to begin with. Add the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and thoroughly mix with a whisk. Cut the pork loin (1-1.5 lbs) into slices of 1/2-inch thickness and let them marinade for no less than an hour. The marination process allows the flavor to penetrate the pork and infuse itself into the meat naturally.

Now let's set the pork aside and prepare the asparagus. Here's what you will need:

1 lb. asparagus spears (with the ends removed and cut into 2-inch segments)
Quarter of an onion (julienned)
2 cloves garlic
3 -4 oz. dried shrimp (hydrated and rough chopped)
1 tablespoon sambal belacan

Get a wok working by heating up 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Start off by sweating the onions together with the dried shrimp. Next, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the segmented asparagus together with the sambal belacan and throughly mix and cook until the asparagus is tender. By now, you'll notice a strong and spicy aroma coming from inside the wok.

Now let's get back to the pork that has been marinating. Get a small pot of oil heating, with enough oil to fill up to at least a couple of inches of the pot. When the temperature of the oil comes up to 400F, you can start deep-frying the pork slices. With the thin pork slices, it shouldn't take too long to cook. When the pork turns golden brown, it is ready. Remove from the oil and let it sit on paper towels to drain the excess oil.

These two dishes are perfect when enjoyed with just plain white rice. As with any Malaysian meal, it will definitely not be complete without a side of sambal belacan as a spicy condiment!

Bon Appétit!

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