Pulled Pork with Korean BBQ Sauce


I started writing this blog more than four years ago (where did the time go?). At first, it was meant to be a way for me to share recipes with friends, something I was doing all the time anyway. With the blog I would be able to put them down in one place and just tell them “the recipe is on the blog” (which I now do, all the time). The idea was that I would only post recipes that were exceptional, five-star, why-did-nobody-tell-me-about-this-before kind of recipes. I would only post the recipes I found myself going back to again and again because they were relatively easy but the results were remarkable.

Pretty soon, however, the blog took an additional role. It became a kind of writing exercise for me and I began to write about more than the food. Sometimes it was about things that happened at that point in time in my life, but more often they were childhood memories. With every added candle on my birthday cake, these childhood memories popped up more often in my head but also started to feel slippery, ready to fade away. So the blog helped solidify them and became a kind of memoire. This also meant that there was more urgency to find and test a new recipe every week or two.


I told Steve when I started the blog that I would continue to write in it only until it started becoming a burden. When I would begin to feel that coming up with recipes and stories was a chore, I would end it.

I’m not quite there yet but I feel that the time may be coming soon when the urge to write diminishes and the pressure to write overwhelms. So, my postings will become less frequent for now. I will go back to posting only when I have a recipe that is a must-share, or if there’s a story I really want to put down. At some point I may stop altogether but probably not anytime soon.

So here’s today’s must-have recipe. Melissa Clark posted this in the New York Times, along with a video, and from the moment we made it, it was clear it would be on constant rotation in our home. We have made it multiple times and have served it to friends on more than one occasion. It’s actually very easy to make and the result is mouth watering, tender pork that you can serve in buns or over rice or any way you want. If you go ahead and try it, I promise you will not regret it.


Pulled Port with Korean BBQ Sauce – Adapted from the NY Times

Makes 8-10 servings

Note: You can\ skip making the Korean bbq sauce but instead use any of your favorite bbq sauce, or make this super-easy 2-minute bbq sauce. Also, if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make it in a pressure cooker. Go to the original recipe page where Melissa describes the process.



5 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
1 tablespoon Korean chile flakes (gochugaru) (you can use other chile flakes, like Maras, Aleppo or crushed red pepper, but be careful to adjust the amount since they vary in heat)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4.5-5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into two or three pieces

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane
1-2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
⅓ cup gochujang (Korean chile paste)
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil


To prepare pork, combine garlic, brown sugar, chile flakes, salt and pepper in a small bowl using a fork. Rub the mixture all over pork. Preferably, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to up to 24 hours. Otherwise, proceed with recipe.

On a hot skillet (or a removable slow cooker pot that go on the stove) over medium high heat, sear pork in batches until browned all over, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to the slow cooker pot  and add 3/4 cup water, cover, and cook in slow cooker on high for 5 to 7 hours until tender.

While pork cooks, prepare sauce: In a small pot, warm vegetable oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Set sauce aside. (It can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)

Let pork cool until you can handle it, then shred it into bite-size pieces, removing any pieces of fat. Pork can be made to this point up to 3 days ahead.

While pork cools, strain liquid from bottom of pot. Pour off fat (or chill liquid, then scoop off solidified fat with a spoon). Toss a couple of tablespoons with shredded pork to moisten it (save the rest of the liquid to make Japanese style noodles in broth).

Serve pork over rice or on slider rolls, topped with bbq sauce and with pickles and kimchi, if desired.

Macadamia and Basil Pesto


On Wednesday night, we took our friend Martine who’s visiting us from France to see “Kinky Boots” on Broadway. It’s a fun show, a real crowdpleaser, and Martine loved it. It was nice to go back to the theater. When we lived in Hell’s Kitchen we used to go very often since we were just a few blocks away from Broadway, but since we moved to Brooklyn, we don’t go that much, which is a shame. I love the theater. It’s such a truly transporting experience (or a soporific one, when you hit the wrong show).

The issue one always has to deal with, when going to a show in New York, is dinner. Since shows start at 8pm (with a few exceptions), most visitors take advantage of the pre-theater dinners at many of the local restaurants. They start at 6pm-6:30pm and they get you out in time for your show. Steve and I, however, would eat at home. We wanted something quick and easy, so we almost always opted for pasta. In the summer, we would make pesto (from a recipe from Steve’s mom, Cora) and freeze it in portions, so that we could have it all year round, including for a pre-theater quick dinner at home.

After a couple of shows, however, we realized that we needed a new plan. You see, Cora’s pesto uses a lot of raw garlic. The first time we ate pasta with pesto and we went to a show, ten minutes into it, we started burping deadly fumes. We could smell each other’s garlic breath and we were sure that so could all the other people around us. After a second show where we exposed people to our garlic breath bombs, we decided to switch dinner ideas.

So, I came up with a different version of a pesto that is without garlic. It still packs a punch, with lemon zest and parmesan, but it’s gentler on the people sitting next to you who may not like to be tear gassed while watching a play.DSC04239

Macadamia and Basil Pesto

Make 1/2 cup pesto, enough for 4 pasta servings


2 cups loosely packed basil
grated zest of half a lemon
1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 macadamia nuts, toasted in 350° oven for 6-7 minutes, cooled, and roughly chopped
1/4 tsp salt


Place everything, except oil in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to combine. Start the food processor and drizzle oil in while processor is running. Pesto will be thick. Add some hot pasta water to dilute and mix with hot, cooked pasta.

Two-Minute Barbecue Sauce

This week it hit almost 80 degrees in New York. That’s the way it goes usually. We have winter, which never seems to end, and then bam! we have summer. Spring winks at us as she passes by for a week or two. Granted, we do have beautiful falls (lovely indian summers) but I would love a nice prolonged spring once in a while.

In any case, warm weather inevitably puts people in a grilling mindset around here. Which is funny, given than New Yorkers rarely have outdoor space where they can grill. But we make do. Some keep grills (illegally) on their tiny balconies. Others use communal back yards. And some (like me), use a stovetop grill pan to get some grill marks but, alas, no smoke.


Nothing goes better with grilled meat than barbecue sauce. Of course, I am reluctant to buy the bottled stuff, wary of long, indecipherable ingredient lists, so I have created my own recipe for a super quick two-minute barbecue sauce. Yep. Two minutes. And you really only need those two minutes to gather the ingredients. After that, you just mix them together with a spoon and you’re done. All of the ingredients are things you probably already have in your pantry except for the liquid smoke (it lasts forever so I just keep a bottle in the pantry) and the smoked paprika, which, if you don’t have, you should buy immediately. It makes everything better.


The end result is a smooth, smoky barbecue that is great brushed on chicken breasts or skirt steak and can be kept in the fridge for a long time if you make more than you need.

The other great thing about this barbecue sauce is that it can serve as your own palette that you use to make your own individual version of a barbecue sauce. You want an Asian flair? Add hoisin sauce. You want a kick? Add Sriracha sauce or cayenne pepper. You like your barbecue sauce sweeter? Add maple syrup.

Happy grilling!


Two-Minute Barbecue Sauce

1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentón)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients with a spoon until you have a smooth, liquid sauce.

This is the basic recipe for the barbecue sauce, which you can improvise with by adding other ingredients to “flavor” your sauce. Some of the things that work well are:

  • Maple syrup
  • Stone ground mustard
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Orange zest
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Sriracha sauce

Thai Chili Vinaigrette

When I first came to the U.S., I was a bright-eyed 19-year-old with a suitcase and a thirst for exploration. The first few months of my life in Philadelphia as a freshman in college seem like a dream today. I was discovering so many cool and interesting things that I had never experienced before: Roller coasters; The Awesome Blossom deep fried onion at Chili’s; and heat. Not the radiator kind but the pepper one.

At the age of 19, I was so unaccustomed to hot food that ground black pepper was too hot for me. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that I liked heat and that with a little practice I could tolerate hot sauces and peppers. Today I relish them.


My favorite hot pepper is the Thai red pepper. Not only because of its fruity, pleasant taste but also because of where its heat hits you. It’s concentrated at the very front of your mouth and the lips. After eating something with Thai red peppers in it, your lips prickle and buzz, like the aftermath of an extraordinary first kiss.


This recipe is for a very basic vinaigrette that is in fact a common table condiment in Thailand called Nam-Pla Prik. It’s easy to make and it has the characteristic flavor combinations of Thai food: heat, salt, sweet, sour, and umami. It’s absolutely delicious tossed with roasted vegetables (like brussel sprouts or winter squash) and it transcends any fillet of fish that has been simply cooked in a sauté pan or in the oven.


Thai chili vinaigrette

3 tablespoons fish sauce (adjust to your taste)*
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)*
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons sugar
1 small garlic clove (or 1/2 large) pressed in garlic press or grated on microplane zester
1 Thai red chili (red bird’s eye chili), very thinly sliced, seeds and all**

* You can find fish sauce and rice vinegar in almost any supermarket, in the international foods section
** I usually buy a bunch of Thai red chilis and I keep them in a ziploc bag in the freezer (they keep for months). I slice one when I need it without even defrosting it first.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined and sugar has dissolved. Alternatively, you can put everything in a jar and shake until sugar is dissolved.

Extra sauce will keep in the fridge for a while.