Finally, it seems summer has arrived. After hiding from us for most of the year, it seems the sun has finally decided to put in an appearance. Of course, being Brits, we’ve all thrown off our clothes, grabbed as much booze as we can carry and hightailed it to the nearest park or garden. In amongst the warm grog, overenthusiastic frisbee and ill-advised toplessness, the food component is frequently overlooked, either relying on a supermarket picnic or some cheap sausages on a disposable barbecue.

Meat in a bath of herbs.

This souvlaki recipe is a really easy and quick summer treat that is equally at home on your kitchen grill as it is on a disposable BBQ down the park (but don’t burn the grass!) Serve it with flat bread, salad, chilli, and garlic sauce. As with most other recipes I make no claims to authenticity. This is my take on the classic Greek kebab but I’ve made some changes. The first time I made this, I only had white wine to hand (quelle horreur!) so I used that and I’ve since found that I prefer it that way. It somehow tastes more vibrant.

Jon’s Souvlaki
500g pork shoulder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried mint
2tsp garlic salt
(or 1tsp salt and 1 tsp garlic powder/1tsp salt and 2 cloves crushed garlic)
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine

Combine all of the ingredients except the pork in a large bowl and stir to mix.

De-rind the pork shoulder and trim off any excess fat before cutting into thin strips. Next place the pork in the marinade and leave for anything from 1-24 hours. It’s a pretty robust marinade so the meat will start to pick up flavour quite quickly but the longer you leave it the better. Interestingly, the lemon juice in the marinade will start to ceviche the pork and it will take on a white tint.

Marinating meat

When you’re ready to eat, simply take the meat and cook it however you would like. You can thread it onto skewers and skewers and grill it over hot coals, basting it with marinade. If, like me, however, you don’t have a garden (bloody London living!) then these are almost as good cooked under the grill or on a griddle pan.

Souvlaki pieces sizzling on the grill.

Serve them in a pitta or flatbread with some salad, chilli sauce and tzatziki or hummous (or both). Souvlaki is also really good served cold. Last time I made this I made double quantities and we took some on a picnic wrapped in flatbread with some home smoked cheese. Simply divine…


Gochujang Pork

Gochujang Pork Ingredients. Bean Paste and Rice Wine in the background.

I’m worried.

I’m worried that I may have given some of you the wrong idea. People who’ve read the first few posts on the blog could be forgiven for thinking  that I’m some kind of jolly butcher type who spends all his time eating sausages and making pork pies. This is a half truth. Believe it or not, I also cook and eat food that doesn’t come stuffed into hog casings. Occasionally, I even eat vegetables .Don’t believe me? The proof is below.

I’ve always been a big fan of South East Asian food and have spent the last couple of years taking advantage of London (and New Malden’s) ever increasing spread of Korean restaurants. I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with Korean Bulgogi or barbeque food; slices of meat marinated or dredged in fermented bean paste, griddled on a tabletop barbeque until charred then served wrapped in lettuce leaves with rice, kimchi and namul.

I’ve also had a massive craving for gochujang recently that I just had to satisfy. Gochgujang and doenjang are mainstays of Korean food and are basically fermented bean and rice powder pastes.  Gochujang includes chilli, doenjang doesn’t. You can usually find it in plastic colour coded tubs in Asian shops, red for gochujang, brown for doenjang (and green for seasoned doenjang but we’re not using that here!)

Below is my version of gochujang bulgogi. In the absence of a tabletop barbeque (Liz vetoed my purchase of one…for now) a hot, heavy based frying pan is almost as good.

Gochujang Pork
600g pork cubed or thinly sliced. (thinly sliced is traditional but I cubed mine)
1 onion thinly sliced ( I used a mandoline)
2 carrots thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks. (Again I used a mandoline)

3 tbsp gochujang chilli paste
1 tbsp doenjang soy bean paste
1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
1tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
5/6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp water

To serve
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 spring onion  chopped.
1 lettuce. Little gem is good.

First combine your marinade ingredients in a large bowl. You may want to adjust the level of gochujang depending on how spicy you like things. Three tablespoons should give you a decent level of heat without bringing about tastebud armageddon but feel free to adjust to your taste.

Add your pork, onions, and carrots to the marinade and stir well to combine. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours combine.

Pork, Onions, Carrots, Gochujang, Doenjang, Rice Wine,

Pork and onions in marinade

When you’re ready to cook, heat a large heavy bottomed pan or wok until its good and hot. You shouldn’t need to put any oil in the pan as its already in the marindate.

Add everything to the pan and cook until your meat is thoroughly cooked through. Don’t worry if it catches on the pan a little bit. Any bits that char will just give it a lovely caramelised barbeque flavour.

Cooked Gochujang Pork, Ready for serving

A couple of minutes before you’re due to serve the pork stir in a tablespoon or so of sesame seeds and some chopped spring onion.

Bring it to the table with a good supply of lettuce leaves to wrap your pork pieces in and serve with boiled rice and kimchi. Incredible. The combination of crisp, crunchy lettuces leaves with the spicy sweet barbecued meat is sublime. A can or two of Hite would be a very appropriate accompaniment.

Finished gochujang pork

I know I said at the beginning of this post that I didn’t only eat sausages. I am however mulling on the idea of mincing the pork after marinading and stuffing into casings. Watch this space…