Let’s be honest here, pals. We’re all gonna get a little thicker over the holidays, if we haven’t already. Speaking for myself, I already forced a lean cuisine week after the weekend o’ pie, which some would otherwise call Thanksgiving. It’s just the facts of life, how the cookie crumbles, the way the ball bounces, and so on and so forth.
Que sera se-freakin’-ra.
But(t), it doesn’t really have to be that bad, does it? I mean, I do love to eat, and I know ya’ll do too – right? You aren’t reading this post because your google search for “juicy fat butt” landed you here, are you?! [And if you are, shame on you! And, ha ha ha]. That being said, do all recipes for good food have to be sinfully bad for you, loaded with saturated fat, and finished off with a least a few tablespoons of Betty Crocker and heavy whipping cream?
Hells Yes. I mean no! No! Really. I’ll prove it – enter Cooking Light magazine. Are you laughing? Poo-poo-ing? You should reconsider that snide remark you may have just made, either out loud or in your head. Because I’m serious – I used to think I was the only person in their 20’s subscribing to that magazine, and even if I were, I’d continue to read proudly. And sure, I read Bon Appetit and Food & Wine, and I used to read Gourmet until it was sadly discontinued. And thanks to my ability to tag posts as I please, I can proudly say that I cook and write about Cooking Light and Bon Appetit recipes equally.
I like the balance of the two magazines. I like to whip up a good, light weeknight meal from CL and then indulge on the weekends by making something so terribly delicious and so good it has to be bad from BA. It’s not to say that CL only has light easy, simply flavored recipes or that BA never has anything made without cream and easy on the tum(s). I’m just generalizing here, folks.
I therefore bring you Exhibit A: juicy fat Boston butt. In Cooking Light magazine. Now, if you’re a butt connoisseur, you may have just spewed your lunch across your desk. When I think of ‘the butt’, I think fat. I think pulled pork and my oh my I think of nothing more than a big ol’ blob of that pulled meat, dripping endlessly with a tangy, vinegary eastern NC bbq sauce, slapped between a big fat buttery bun. With maybe some coleslaw between the bun and the meat. And a few hushpuppies on the side. And sweet tea. That was NOT in Cookling Light, I promise. But ‘the butt’ was.
And as fatty as ‘the butt’ may be, it can easily be a part of a healthy meal, as long as that meal doesn’t involve all the things listed above, including the large ‘blobs’ of meat. Portion control, people. Enter ‘char siu’, Chinese-style BBQ – generally pork marinated in soy, honey, hoisin, rice vinegar, chile paste. Salty, sweet, tangy, spicy, delicious. And deep, dark red and mighty pretty to boot.
Throw some herbage on top and some sesame noodles underneath and you’ve got a Cooking Light-certified meal.
Char Siu over Sesame Noodles
Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2009; serves 6
428 kcal, 3.4 g saturated fat, 15.8 g protein, 0.6 g fiber per serving
1/2 c low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 c honey
3 T rice vinegar
3 T dark sesame oil, divided
2 T hoisin sauce*
2 T chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek), divided
5 garlic cloves, divided
1 (1 1/4-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed
12 oz (1/4-inch-thick) uncooked rice sticks (rice-flour noodles)
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1 1/2 T sugar
1 T toasted black sesame seeds
3 T fresh cilantro leaves
3 T torn fresh basil leaves
Combine 1/4 c soy sauce, honey, vinegar, 1 T oil, hoisin, 1 T chile paste, and 3 garlic cloves, stirring well with a whisk; place mixture in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Place pork in bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 450°.
Remove pork from bag; reserve marinade. Place a roasting rack in a small roasting pan; fill pan with water to a depth of 1/2 inch. Place pork on rack. Roast pork at 450° for 15 minutes. Baste pork with some of reserved marinade. Turn pork over; baste. Reduce oven temperature to 400°. Cook pork an additional 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Discard remaining marinade. Let pork stand 10 minutes; thinly slice.
Prepare noodles according to package directions; drain. Combine remaining 1/4 c soy sauce, remaining 2 T oil, remaining 1 T chile paste, remaining 2 garlic cloves, juice, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring well. Add noodles & sesame seeds to bowl; toss to coat. Divide noodles evenly among each of 6 bowls. Combine cilantro and basil; sprinkle about 1 T herb mixture over each serving. Divide pork evenly among bowls.
*Note: Dynasty brand Hoisin sauce is gluten-free; Whole Foods and other retailers have plenty of g-free soy sauces