October 10, 2011

Burmese-Inspired Pumpkin Pork Stew

I am obsessed with the Burmese pumpkin pork stew they serve at B Star and Burma Superstar in the City.  We are so lucky to have good (and inexpensive!) eats so close by.  Unfortunately, it's tricky to eat at these types of restaurants with the kids because of their food allergies (egg, dairy, shellfish, nuts).  Nuts, eggs, and shrimp paste are often used or hidden in these recipes, and the risk of cross-contamination is also very real.

So onward I searched for a yummy alternative that is kid and allergy-friendly.  I found this recipe online, and wanted to try it out with a few ingredient changes.

It just so happened my Chinese cooking extraordinaire mother-in-law was around that day while I attempted this new recipe, and she assisted me in trying to get the most flavor into this dish as possible, so it sort of morphed into a Burmese-inspired Chinese style dish.  :)

To address the food allergies, I used preserved tofu instead of shrimp paste, and olive oil instead of peanut oil.  I also added sugar, coconut milk, garlic powder, and a bit more garlic.

Here is what the preserved bean curd looks like (you can find many varieties in Asian markets):

These are the ingredients I used:
2 pounds of pork loin in 2 inch cubes (or chicken or beef, or even tofu would be good)
1 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. sugar
2 T. olive oil
2 cubes of preserved tofu
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced (the more the better I always say)
1 T. ginger (the recipe calls for minced but I sliced it so I could pull it out later for the kids)
2 tsp. chile flakes*
1 cup water (or chicken broth)
1 can coconut milk
2 cups of pumpkin or butternut squash, in 1 inch cubes

*I omitted these to make it more kid-friendly

I love how convenient the TJ's butternut squash is!
Here are the steps:
1. Marinate meat with salt, sugar, garlic powder, soy sauce, a bit of olive oil (those ingredients make up the basic Chinese marinade), and turmeric for up to an hour.  I only had time to marinate for about 15 minutes, and I'm sure a little more time would've helped seal in the flavors.

Marinate up to 1 hour

2. Over a med-high pan, heat oil.  Add and saute together garlic, ginger, and preserved tofu and onions for about a minute, then add pork with marinade, browning slightly on sides. 
Garlic and ginger...

3. Add 1 cup water and cover, bringing to a boil over moderate heat.

4. Let it cook for about 30 minutes, and add coconut milk and pumpkin or squash.  Simmer until pork is tender, about another 10 to 20 minutes. 

Serve over rice or coconut rice .
To make coconut rice--my own personal incredibly easy, delicious and very sweet version of it: I cook white or brown rice as usual in the rice cooker, but I substitute coconut milk instead of water.  You can dilute the coconut milk down if you want.  B Star serves this stew with their coconut rice sprinkled with fried onions, which can be found in the Asian market in a plastic canister.

Next time I will try cooking this stew in a slow cooker for convenience. 
I personally love sweet stews.  But if you want less sweet, you can omit the sugar, and replace the coconut milk with water as in the original recipe.  Also, I liked the squash a bit chunky with some melted into the sauce, so I added it earlier.  If you like yours more firm, add later.

As with most stews, it tasted even better on day two!  Good luck!

My mother-in-law went crazy with the fried onions and added them directly atop the stew--t was admittedly very delicious!


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  2. Did you end up trying to do this in a crockpot? If so how did you do it and how did it turn out?

  3. thanks for posting this it is a wonderful recipe and my daughter with multiple allergies can eat it.... and likes it!

    If a crockpot is used how long should it cook at hight or low ?