|Margarita's International Recipes|
This was the first Bhutanese dish I cooked and I was, as expected, a little bit apprehensive. It didn't help that the recipe wasn't too detailed (or at least detailed enough for my needs). So my expectations were pretty low and for that reason I was happily surprised. This dish wasn't great, it wasn't bursting with flavor and will not win any awards at a culinary show. But it's good, simple and hearty mountain food. I don't think I'd make it again, but if I'm ever in Bhutan I'd probably order it at a restaurant.
My biggest challenge with this dish, as with other Bhutanese dishes, is to figure out what chilies to use. The Bhutanese chiles I've seen in pictures appear large and skinny and most closely resemble Anaheim peppers. However, all the recipes call for "medium" heat chiles, and Anaheims are quite mild. Therefore, I decided to substitute with jalapeņos. Alas, I was too afraid of the heat these may provide, so I cored them and discarded the seeds before using them. That was probably a mistake as the dish was barely spicy that way. If you make it and like spice, I'd recommend leaving the seeds. I'd also recommend adding more salt.
The Bhutanese method of cooking, where you use very little water, was new to me but seems quite effective. Then again, I used a non-stick pan. Pork in Bhutan probably has more fat that in the US, so perhaps more of a frying effect occurs there at the end. The meat and potatoes did brown a little when I added the oil.
The recipe below is enough for dinner for 2 people. The amount of potatoes seemed to be a little bit disproportionate vis a vis the pork (understandable in a place where meat is expensive), you may want to increase the amount of pork called for. Bhutanese east most of their meals with rice, but this recipe produces no sauce and is so heavy on potatoes that you don't need another starch.
Spicy Pork with Potatoes
- 1 3/4 cup of water
- 1 lb. pork loin, cubed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cut in large slices
- 3 Jalapeņo chiles, cut lengthwise into 2 strips each
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp. chilli powder
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1" ginger, finely chopped
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the pork loin and salt and simmer until the pork is cooked, about 20 minutes. Add the potatoes, chiles, onion and oil and stir. Cook on medium heat until the potatoes are almost cooked, about 15 minutes, stirring occationally. Add the chilli powder, garlic and ginger and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, frequently stirring.
Adapted from Tshering Cigay Dorji's recipe at the Bhutanese Food Site.