Nov 8-9 Braised Pork with Pumpkin

Nov 8     panko chicken strips with plum sauce and sweet potato fries
Nov 9     Out to the Playpen for dinner
Nov 10   Braised Pork with Pumpkin

This was going to be a stellar week of eating in every night, starting with an attempt to replace wing night with a healthier home version. I like going out for great wings every once and a while as much as anyone but it would be nice if we cut that back to a couple of times a month. I baked chicken strips with a panko/black sesame seed coating and baked sweet potato fries to replace our wings and poutine. Everyone seemed pretty happy with that so we were off to a good start. I had every intention of making the chinese braised pork with pumpkin to eat Wednesday and even walked all the way to chinatown to pick up one missing ingredient but Shack texted just as I got there to let me know he had made reservations at the Playpen, a new Johnny K restaurant that we have been waiting for. Foiled again by the saboteur ,  Mr ILOVETOEATOUTEVERYNIGHT.
I made the Pork anyway and we will eat it tonight. It is traditionally made with little pork spareribs but I used a pork butt cubed so it would be more meaty and less boney and easier to eat. I used half the weight in pork because I estimated that half the weight would be taken up by the bone in the ribs. It seemed like it worked out right so go me!

Braised Pork with Pumpkin
adapted from

sunflower oil
1 500g pork butt roast, trimmed of excess fat and cubed into bite sized pieces
chicken stock
3 star anise
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tbls grated ginger
1 tsp chili flake
1 tbls curry powder
1 heaped tbls hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tbls chu hou sauce
1 tbls ground bean paste
1/2 tbls dark soy sauce
1/3 cup shoa xing wine
1 tsp kosher salt
pumpkin, chopped into bite sized pieces

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot (I used my Le Creuset cast iron pot but you could use a heavy wok or any other good pot). Throw in the garlic, ginger, star anise, chili, hoisin, chu hou and ground bean pastes and fry over medium heat for a couple of minutes until very fragrant.

Add the pork and sauté for another 7 or 8 minutes until the pork is browned and totally coated in the sauce. Add in the curry powder and the dark soy and sauté for another minute.
Now add the Shaoxing wine and deglaze the wok for a couple of minutes before you add the stock or water just to cover to the pork. Bring it to a boil and then turn down the heat until you get a light simmer and let it simmer for about and hour and a half until the pork is really tender. I kept a pot of pork stock simmering lightly on the stove because I found that I had to top up the liquid a bit a couple of times during the cooking of the pork - maybe I simmered it too vigourously but keep an eye on it and make sure you don't let it get too dry. It should be a bit dry and sticky by the time the entire dish is done but you need some liquid to be left in the pot for cooking the pumpkin.
Bring back to a boil and season with some salt to taste. Add this point, you add in the pumpkin and move the meat to the top and the pumpkin to the bottom of the pot, cover lightly and let that cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
Serve it with rice.