Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tonight's Dinner: Pata Tim or Slowly Braised Pork Shoulder in Soy, Sherry and Sesame Oil.

My mom is a fantastic Filipino cook. She makes a delicious Chicken relleno, an impressive deboned whole chicken stuffed with seasoned boneless shredded chicken meat, pork, whole eggs and spices. It’s similar to a Cajun turducken minus the turkey and the duck. Several years ago, my mom started teaching me her authentic Filipino recipes and trade secrets. I'm still learning how to cook Filipino food like her but there are several Filipino entrees, soups and desserts I can make consistently each time. I was thrilled when she taught me how to make Pata Tim, one of my favorite Filipino foods growing up. For me, Pata Tim is Filipino soul food and one of those things that remind of me of my childhood in the Philippines and my mom's home cooking.

Filipino Food has been influenced by many different types of cuisines: Spanish, Indo-Malaysian, American, Chinese and so on. Pata tim is a Filipino dish with a strong Cantonese influence. It's similar to a steamed pork shoulder I've had at authentic Chinese restaurants. What is Pata Tim? It's a slowly braised pork leg (pata = pork keg) in a flavorful braising liquid. When I make Pata Tim, I use a Boston pork butt or pork shoulder(pork rind and all) instead of pata. It's meatier than pork legs and we like meat! If you never had Filipino Pata Tim but had pied de cochon(pig trotter) from French restaurants, you will like this dish too. Eating Pata Tim is a quick trip to cholesterol city but it’s worth it as long as you don't overdo it.

This dish is not too hard to prepare. First, I seared all sides in a couple of tablespoons of oil. Then I braised the pork in water, good quality dry sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, dried shitake mushrooms, star anise, peppercorns and a Filipino mirepoix: a combination of finely chopped onion, garlic, and grated ginger for six or seven happy hours in a crock pot. The meat falls of the bone and you end up with a delicious sweet, tender, melt in your mouth pork. I like to serve it with Jasmine rice and green peas(or salad greens) and garnish it with finely chopped green onions. Pata Tim is also great as leftovers.

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