11 (Sun) April 2021
Pyogo & Pork Belly
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with W and IZ (and DJ)
Pyogo = 표고 = 票古 = shiitake = Lentinula edodes = oak/black mushroom.
Henceforth, I will use the Korean term, at least when in Korea, certainly in reference to our own mushrooms, except maybe when Japanese cuisine is involved.
First, I free-styled a marinade, mostly oyster sauce with dashes of Yeondu, vinegar, sriracha, and black pepper.
I cut the mushrooms into thick slices and tossed them in the marinade.
For the record, J-Mart currently sells top quality local pork belly at 2,850 won per 100 grams.
A recent trend in Korea is “beehive” pork bellies, which involves scoring the meat vertically across a thick slab, which presumably makes them look like beehives.
Considering what to do with the early spring bounty of mushrooms from the cabin (see 12.095 Jalapeño Whopper), I was reminded of how I had grilled the last winter harvest (see 11.351 Grilled Shiitake). This time, in addition to enhancing flavor with marinade, I improved texture by cutting the mushrooms thick (more volume), pairing with pork bellies (more fat) and cooking on a griddle (more surface).
The griddle is also good because it pools the rendered fat, which is used to grill the mushrooms.
Beyond aesthetics, I’m not convinced that the scoring provides any benefit, except perhaps giving a guide to even cutting.
The first batch was something of a miss, as I had started with too much of everything, including onions, which created steam and prevented crisping.
The following batches were just right. Both the pyogo and the pork were crispy on the outside and juicy inside, harmony of flavors between mushroom woodsy + meat savory + oyster sauce sweet + sriracha spicy + vinegar sour. Awesome.
Incidentally, DJ will not be joining us for dinner at the table for the next 2 weeks. He’s in room-quarantine, because the asshole parents of a classmate had tested positive for Covid-19 yet inexplicably sent her to school, and then she tested positive, so the whole fucking school locked down for a couple days to get everyone in the building tested; fortunately, surprisingly, everyone else was negative, but those in “close contact” – most of the 8th grade, including DJ – were ordered by the health authorities to stay home and in their rooms for 2 weeks. W and I also tested negative, but we’re allowed to go about. So for his meals, W assembles a separate tray and delivers the food to him, like hotel room service – he yells out, “More meat!”, and she obeys.
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