Clancy’s Sticky Chinese Pork

If you have a few hours spare (yeah right.., not with three kids to run around I hear you say), I strongly recommend this recipe. Served with rice and maybe a few Asian greens tossed about in a pan, this could quickly become a camp fave.

My protein of choice for this dish is pork belly (as the title would suggest), however, I’m sure it could be adapted for beef/brisket if preferred. Depending on your cut of meat allow some extra cooking time at a low low heat to get the meat mouthwateringly tender depending on your cut of meat.

Although this recipe takes some time to cook, there’s no marinating and no huge list of ingredients. The depth of flavour you get is from the slow cook.

Clancy’s Tip

  • This dish works really well as nibbles too – pop it into a plate and pass around the toothpicks and beers.
  • Any leftovers make a mighty fine jaffle/toastie filling!
  • If you’re feeling really fancy, pop it into some steamed buns with some mayo to turn it into pork bao. Naturally, sliders would work just as well.
  • The cooking broth can easily do double duty as a stock. Once the broth has cooled, skim off the fat layer and freeze (if you have that facility) or use it as the base for a very yummy wonton soup.

As with all leftovers, make sure that it’s stored correctly – getting sick is not on anyone’s agenda!

Equipment Used:

  • Cast iron camp oven (Dutch oven)
  • Cast iron fry pan
  • Ozpig/fire source.

What you need

For the Pork:
  • 1kg pork belly with the rind removed. Cut the pork belly into slices about the length of your finger and cut each in half.
  • 4 ¼ cups chicken stock (preferably hot)
  • 1 piece of ginger – about the size of your thumb – finely chopped.
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped in half
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sugar
For the glaze:
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 piece of ginger – about the size of your thumb – minced ie chopped super fine
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped (optional of course). It’s up to you if you leave the seeds in or not…
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp lemongrass very finely chopped.

What to do with it

  1. Place the pork belly ingredients into the camp oven and bring to the boil. Place the lid on and reduce the heat source down to create a low simmer for approx. 2 hours.
  2. Take off the heat and drain the pork of the liquid. You can set the liquid aside and use it as a Chinese broth for another day – see Clancy’s tips.
  3. Chop the pork belly into bite-sized pieces
  4. Place the frying pan over heat and add 1 tbsp oil, the pork belly pieces, salt and pepper and fry on a high heat until the pork starts to turn golden.
  5. In a separate bowl mix together the glaze ingredients. Once combined, pour the glaze over the pork and continue cooking.
  6. Once it appears dark and sticky, take it off the heat.
  7. Pour some cold beer and serve

Steamed Pork Buns

pic courtesy of deposit photos

This recipe is a must for when you are camping in the colder months. Not only will these warm your soul, but you’ll be sure to make new friends with little beauties around the campfire.

Don’t be put off by the amount of prep work to get these ready. The filling is easily prepared prior to your adventure and, once made up, travels well – refrigerated properly, of course. All you’re left to do is place your bamboo steamer into your cooking pot, pour some water into the base, and in 15 to 20 minutes you’ll be cracking open the wonderfully soft and fluffy sweet bread filled with the aromas of the sticky pork filling.

Pass the beer…stat.

What you need…

Equipment

  • A Dutch oven (camp oven)
  • Bamboo steamer – that fits in the oven
  • You can also place the steamer over a wok using the burner on your barbeque or gas stove
For the dough
  • 2.5 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the pork filling
  • 300g finely diced pork
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce

What to do with it

The Filling
  • Place the sauces, wine, and sugar In a saucepan/camp oven/frypan – depending on whether you’re making at home or at your destination –  and mix well. Bring it to a simmer over a medium heat source for approximately 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has slightly thickened.
  • Whisk the cornflour with about a tbsp of water. Once combined, add this to the sauce and stir for a further few mins until the sauce is thick and smooth.
  • Remove it from the heat, add the sesame oil and chopped pork, and you’re done.
  • Cover the mixture and set aside in the fridge (or esky) until required.
The Dough

Okay, this can be a little bit tricky, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

  • Mix together the yeast with 3/4  cup of warm (not hot) water to kick start the activation process.
  • Add 2 tsp of the caster sugar, mix well and place it to the side in a warm place for 10-15 mins. It should start to show signs of bubbling or foaming.
  • Mix the remaining caster sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and stir until it is all well combined. Pour into the yeast mixture and add the oil. Continue to mix until a stiff dough is formed. You might need to add a little more warm water if the dough becomes too stiff.
  • Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky. Take the dough out and lightly knead before covering in plastic and placing it in a warm spot to rest for an hour or so.
  • Once rested, take the dough and knead it lightly on a slightly floured bench.
  • Roll the dough into a thick log – approximately 5 cm thick – and cut into about 15 equal pieces of dough.

Putting it all together

  • Take a piece of the prepared dough and roll it out until you have about a 10cm diameter circle.
  • Place the dough into your opened hand and spoon into the centre about a tbsp of the filling.
  • Fold the dough over the filling and bring it together at the top. Twist the top to seal. Don’t worry about how pretty (or otherwise) it looks.
  • Place the bun on a piece of baking paper and cut to be slightly larger than the bun. Cut enough paper for all your remaining buns and repeat.
  • Place all buns (including the baking paper) into a bamboo steamer spacing them about 5cms apart, and cover with the steamer lid.
  • Place the bamboo steamer into your camp oven/pot/wok, add water – to just below the first layer of buns – and steam over a high heat source for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on your water level so it does not completely evaporate.

Kapitan Chicken

I’ve been cooking this curry for years – it’s one of Clancy’s faves – yet as good as it tastes on the stovetop, it tastes better in a camp oven over flames. If you are going to cook it on your next adventure though, blend the spice paste up before you head out. Alternatively, make a big batch and keep some in the freezer that you can take with you.

The method I’ve given here is for a stovetop, but it translates just as well to fire. We last cooked it using the Oz Pig – mainly because it’s easier to control the heat and stir the sauce. If you’re using coals, you don’t need any on the lid.

Some notes on the ingredients

With regards to ingredients, as per usual adjust to your own taste – especially where the chilli is involved. We usually use a few large red chillis and leave some of the small ones with their seeds intact. The large red chillis won’t add a lot of heat to the dish, but they will make your paste more orange than yellow – not a big deal.

Candlenuts are something you might not have come across before – and something we’ve, in the past, left out to adapt the recipe for nut allergies. Sure, they add some authenticity to the dish, but on the other hand, they’re not really missed. If you can’t get candlenuts – which are available mostly at Asian supermarkets – macadamia nuts add a similar texture.

Belacan (Belachan) is another one you might not have come across before. It’s truly foul smelling stuff…when I say foul, I mean, really foul – another reason to mix up your paste before going on your adventure. You don’t want this stuff lying open in your tent/van/whatever.

It’s the sort of smell that seriously you wouldn’t know if it were off or not. Worse than smelly cheese, this doesn’t have the aroma of unwashed wet socks, but rather the stink of decaying shrimp. And that’s what it’s made from – fermented shrimp with a little salt. It’s then sun-dried and cut into blocks – although some stockists will sell it in a wet form that is also pretty manky.

Thankfully there are now some brands that are sold not only pre-roasted but pre-cut into individually sealed portion controlled sizes. Trust me, that is a breath of fresh air for the fridge.

So why would we cook with something that smells as gross as this? Simply because it adds that indefinable but absolutely necessary pungency to Malaysian cooking. (It’s also used widely in Thai, Laotian, Indonesian, Singapore and other South East Asian cuisines). It’s the belacan that gives sambal its potency, and the taste that allows the finished product to take you back to that Hawker’s Market in Penang.

Galangal is similar to ginger, but has a different texture and is more citrusy in taste. If you can’t get it, use more ginger.

I can rarely be faffed jointing a whole chicken (and our supermarket doesn’t sell free-range pieces other than drumsticks), so we used skinless thighs. If you are doing this, I would recommend taking the chicken out after the initial cooking period so that you have the time to develop the sauce in the way it needs to be developed. Then simply toss the chicken pieces back in for the final 10 mins or so.

Anyways, here is the recipe. It will serve 4 people easily with leftovers dependent on appetites.

What you need

For the paste:
  • 8 red birds eye chillis, split & de-seeded. We like chilli so leave the seeds in a few of these.
  • 3 shallots, sometimes called French shallots. If you can’t get them, use red onions – 1 large one should be enough
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2.5cm each ginger, galangal, and turmeric (peeled and sliced). Galangal is similar to ginger, yet tastes very different.
  • 5 candlenuts (These taste like a brazil nut with the texture of a macadamia)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (the white part)
  • 1 tsp belacan*

Smash this all with your mortar and pestle, or whack it into a food processor and whizz until it is a smooth paste.

You’ll also need:
  • 1 whole chicken jointed (or about 1.5kgs chicken pieces) – we prefer free range chooks that have clucked and scratched their way through their (short) lives.
  • 1 tbsp oil – we use rice bran or coconut oil
  • 5 eschalots (sliced)
  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • Fish sauce to taste – about a tablespoon
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded, to serve (optional)
  • Extra lime to serve (optional)
  • Coriander to serve (optional)

Putting it all together:

  • Heat the oil in a large frypan or camp oven and fry the paste over medium heat until it is brown and fragrant. This will take about 5 minutes, but trust me, you’ll know.
  • Add the shallots and chicken pieces and coat in the paste before frying for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the coconut cream, 100ml water, and cover the pan with a lid. Bring it up to a boil before reducing to a simmer for 20 minutes. (If you’re cooking it on a stovetop you might not need the extra water).
  • Uncover and simmer for another 5-10minutes – or until the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced to a dunkable gravy.
  • Add fish sauce to taste, stir in the lime juice and scatter with kaffir lime leaves and (if using) coriander to serve.

Duck Curry

This dish combines two of my favourite things – curries and cooking on the fire. Plus, it’s a surprisingly easy meal to put together – always a bonus when you’re out and about.  Don’t let me fool you though, whilst it may be easy, it is definitely tasty and full of textural delights.

Aside from taking great, this particular curry has one distinct advantage over other curries – it can be cooked and ready to be eaten in under half an hour. Perfect for a first-night cook if you are arriving at your destination later in the day or early evening.

There were a few extra ingredients that I played with here to get a different texture element and some more depth of flavour. I included canned pineapple cubes for sweetness along with canned lychees – which I must admit I haven’t cooked with before, although I definitely will be adding them to my camping list from now on.

The list below looks a tad long, but don’t forget you can make your curry paste at home before you leave – in fact, I’d suggest that you did. Of course, you can always take a shortcut and buy your favourite curry paste from the supermarket, though for me there is no substitute for freshness – even when camping.

What you need

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 teaspoon of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of curry paste
  • 400ml can of coconut cream
  • Small tin (225g) of pineapple chunks
  • Half a tin of lychees (about 250g)

Optional:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

For the curry paste

  • 12 – 15 dried red chillies
  • 4cm piece of galangal (use ginger if you do not have galangal, or include both for even more flavour)
  • 1 whole bunch of coriander – roots and all.
  • 2 stalks lemongrass ( white section only). Smash the stalk with the back of a heavy knife and slice
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves with stems removed
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 4 brown shallots
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste. This is often sold as belacan and is available in little individually wrapped squares.
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

What you do with it

Curry Paste

  • Flatten out shrimp paste in between 2 pieces of aluminium foil and roast over medium heat in a frypan for 2 minutes on each side. If you’re making this in your kitchen at home, open all windows and put the fan on as this will smell!
  • Place chillies in a bowl of hot water for 10-15 mins, then drain
  • Throw all the ingredients into a mortar and pestle and pound into a paste – or blitz them in a mini food processor.  If you’re blitzing your paste ingredients, chop each roughly. If you’re going with the pounding method, make life easier on yourself and slice and dice more finely.
  • Pop the lot into a jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It should make a cup. This paste also freezes well – pop it into an ice cube tray to freeze and then store in zip lock bags in the freezer.

Making the curry

  • Do whatever it is that you need to do to get your heat source up to temperature. I like to use the Ozpig.
  • Let’s get the duck skin nice and brown. For the best result (not burnt, or cooked too quickly), score the skin and pat dry the skin with paper towel. Place the duck on a cold skillet or frypan and heat over your fire source. There’s no need to place any oil in the pan as the duck fat will render.

  • Cook until the skin is nice and golden, then flip and cook the other side for approximately 3mins. Once browned take it off the heat and allow to cool on a separate plate. Pour off the duck fat into a clean tin; you can save this for something else later – I’m thinking sauteed potatoes in duck fat…yum!
  • Pour the oil into your pan and fry off the curry paste until fragrant.
  • Now add the coconut cream and bring to the boil, then add the pineapple chunks and lychees. If you have other veggies you’d like to toss in eg beans, tomatoes, do it now.
  • Whilst that is coming back to heat, slice the duck to your desired thickness and add to the curry to heat through. This should only take a few minutes – you don’t want to overcook it.
  • To add even more depth, you can add the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice, though it is also well balanced without this.
  • Serve with rice or in a bowl on its own.

 

Stuffed Pumpkin

Pumpkin is one of those vegetables (yes, I know that technically it’s a fruit) that I have a love-hate relationship with.

My mother used to mash it with potato and I hated it so much I’d gag on it. ‘Oh Joanne,’ she’d say. ‘There’s no need for the dramatics.’ She still does it that way and I still gag on it. She also used to boil it. Yep, gag material as well. It’s really only at Christmas that she’d roast it – and apologise if it had little burnt bits around the edge. Coincidentally, that’s one way I do enjoy eating it: roasted with burnt caramelised bits.

I also dislike pumpkin soup – unless it’s my husbands’ version. He adds ginger and garlic and spices it up – plus he makes sure that it’s silky smooth. I can’t abide the lumps – it reminds me of boiled or mashed pumpkin and I’ll gag.

If that’s the hate part, what about the love? If it’s on the menu, I’ll choose a pumpkin and feta risotto any day. I also make a fabulous pumpkin macaroni cheese – if I do say so myself.

So I was a little concerned when Clancy announced that he was doing a whole pumpkin in the camp oven. Would it fall into the love category, or would I be gagging?

The verdict? It was the dish of the weekend. It was also, without a doubt, the most impressively theatrical dish.

What you need…

  • 1 large pumpkin – we used a jap pumpkin
  • cooked rice – about a cup or so
  • 3-4 cooked bacon rashers, chopped. You could also use some smoky chorizo for a little more paprika goodness. Fry it up and chop it up.
  • 6 spring onions, chopped – or 1 whole normal onion – white or purple…whatever you have.
  • 2-3 tomatoes chopped
  • a handful of chopped mixed herbs – whatever you have
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chicken stock

Don’t be too precious with ingredients or quantities. This is, as all great camp recipes should be, a great use of leftovers or pantry staples. Some chilli for a kick is always a good idea…

What you do with it…

  • Place pumpkin in a foil-lined camp oven. Depending on your coals, the bottom can get really hot – so double foil it. Bake it over moderate coals (with some on the lid too) until it’s tender. This will take about an hour. The coals on the lid will help cook the pumpkin all the way through.

  • While it’s cooking, mix all of your stuffing ingredients together. This really is multi-tasking at its best.
  • Remove the pumpkin carefully from the oven and cut the top off it.
  • Scoop the seeds out from the centre, taking care not to remove any of the sweet flesh.
  • Spoon the rice mix into the pumpkin shell and return the pumpkin to the camp oven.

  • Pour the chicken stock over and replace the pumpkin lid, and then the lid of the camp oven.
  • Put it back on the coals (with some more on the lid) and cook for another 30-40 minutes until it’s beautifully tender.
  • Serve on its own (for lunch) or as a side dish…

Savoury Cake

I first tried this savoury cake when on a road trip in France during the European spring. It was served to us as with drinks before a dinner consisting of platters of meat and salads served outside under the stars. Not only was this cake perfect with both bubbles and beer, it was part of a night we’ll remember for a long time.

Aside from tasting great, this cake is a perfect way to use up leftovers – bacon from breakfast (as if there’s ever any bacon leftover from breakfast), bits and pieces of cheese, herbs, olives and other things from when you had dips, chips and nibbly bits last night, that cheek of capsicum that was left after you finished making the chilli. That sort of thing. In fact, it’s the sort of cake best left until your last night in camp – and then you can have it sliced with butter the next morning as well.

The recipe is below, but you really can put anything in it. Just remember, though, if you’re using zucchini to squeeze out the liquid in a cloth first.

We cooked it in on a trivet in the camp oven on the Oz Pig. You could, however, also cook it over coals. Remember though, for baking you need coals on the top and the bottom – just like in an oven.

What you need

  • About a cup of plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 150g unsweetened plain or Greek-style yoghurt – that’s most of a small tub
  • 3 eggs
  • Whatever vegetables you have to hand – chopped peppers, halved (or quartered) cherry tomatoes, a small handful of chopped (and stoned) olives, chopped fresh herbs.
  • Whatever cheeses you have to hand – a handful of grated cheddar, chopped blue or goats cheese.
  • Fried diced bacon, chorizo…if you have it. Otherwise, don’t bother with the meat.

What you do with it

Preheat the camp oven and generously grease a loaf tin. If you have them, sprinkle poppy seeds in – if you don’t, don’t bother.

If you’re using bacon and onion, fry these off first and set aside

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the centre for the wet ingredients.

Drop in the eggs, yoghurt, oil and some salt and pepper and whisk to blend – but don’t overmix. If you want, whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl before stirring into the flour. Your call, but I can’t be faffed dirtying another bowl.

Gently mix in your vegetables, herbs, cheeses, bacon…whatever… and put it into your prepared loaf tin. I like to sprinkle extra cheese over the top.

Place it into your camp oven on a trivet – so raised from the bottom – and bake for around 35 mins – until well risen, golden and firm to the touch. Depending on the types of veg and quantity of cheese you’ve used, you might need to pop it in for an extra 5 minutes or so.

Let it cool in its tin on a rack and then turn out onto a board to serve. It’s best cut with a bread knife and served in small slices. Eat with whatever it is that you’re drinking.