Flavors That Thai Together

At a recent meeting of the Estate Ian challenged us to come up with a menu around 4 Michigan wines he chose. More details on the menu and wines will be forthcoming. Today I'll be focusing on the soup course, as this recipe was the star of the show, it seemed. Drawing heavily on Thai influences I came up with this pork and coconut milk concoction to pair with Brys Estate Gewurztraminer out of Old Mission peninsula in northern Michigan. Ingredients: 2 quarts chicken stock 14 oz. (1 can) coconut milk 2 ribs of celery, cut in half length wise and sliced thin on a bias 1 carrot, peeled, cut in half length wise and sliced thin on a bias 1 leek, white part only, rinsed, cut in half length wise and sliced very thin 4 small heads of Choy Sum, greens trimmed and chiffonade, whites sliced thin (baby Bok Choy will work as well) (See my chiffonade demonstration here) 2 tablespoons grated Ginger root 6 oz. dry Vermouth 4 tablespoons Madras curry paste 1 pound center cut Pork loin, cut into 1/4 inch x 1/2 inch x 1 inch strips 8 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps sliced into strips 6 oz. scallion, sliced thin on a bias 1 Bosc pear, cut into batons or very small cubes (hold in cold water with a little lime juice to prevent oxidation) 6 oz. fresh chopped Cilantro 2 tablespoons light oil 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil Zest of 1 large Lime, or 2 small Limes Fish sauce to taste 1/2 pound toasted Cashews, crushed Procedure:

Sweating the veg components

If you go with bone in pork loin, remove the bones and place in a pot with the chicken stock and discarded Shiitake stems and bring to a simmer for at least 1 hour. In a large heavy bottomed pot add the oils and place over medium heat. Once the oils are heated, add the celery, carrot, leek, shiitake caps, and choy sum whites. Saute over medium heat until soft but not browned. Crank the heat up and add the ginger and curry. Saute for 1 minute, until very fragrant, and deglaze with the vermouth. Reduce the vermouth by half then add the coconut milk, lime zest, and strained chicken stock.

The pork goes in for a quick simmer

Once the soup has come back to a simmer, add the pork and fish sauce for salt to taste and simmer for 1 minute before adding the choy sum greens and remove from heat. Allow the soup to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Simmering too long once the pork is added will over cook it and you'll have little strips of drywall floating in the soup, so timing is key on that part. I firmly believe there should be a special prison for people who over cook pork... Or any meat, for that matter.

Garnishing the serving bowls

For service, place equal quantities of the scallion, Bosc pear, and cilantro in the bottom of the serving bowls, and pour the hot soup over the garnish. Top with a sprinkle of toasted cashews and serve. Serves 8 people as a course in a larger menu, less if chosen as a main.

Crushed cashews for a finishing touch

The way I handled the garnish on this dish once again reflects my practice of choosing and implementing garnishes that tie into the dish in a much more intricate way than simply adding color. The sweetness of the pears, the crunch of the cashews and the brightness of the fresh cilantro all added at the very end elevated this soup and further blended the flavors with the wine it was built around. My next post will be a more detailed account of the whole spread and how the food and beverage pairings interacted, elaborating on the photo gallery already posted. As always, feel free to post any questions or comments. Jack

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