Macau-Style Pork Chop Sandwich – Appetites by Anthony Bourdain
So unless you live under a rock, you know who Anthony Bourdain is. He’s quirky and adventurous, not at all politically correct but honest as hell and very smart. Being a traveler myself, I love his CNN Parts Unknown show, where he travels to places around the world, some which are popular tourist destinations, others which are really quite out there, and explores the food, people and culture of the area. On a side note though, why in the hell is this show on CNN? I will never understand this. I’m sure Anthony himself got a kick out of calling his friends to tell them he was going to have a CNN show. “No, I’m not f’ing kidding you. CNN.” Takes a drag from his cigarette. I digress.
I received this cookbook, “Appetites“, a couple years ago for Christmas and hadn’t gotten around to making many of the recipes from it until now. Before we get into the recipe, let me just set the stage for what to expect should you choose to make this cookbook investment. You know how Tony (I’ll just make us on a first name basis) is sometimes a bit wild and talks pretty openly about his (past) drug issues and party life. Well imagine the effect that had on his brain and put that into a cookbook. This is visible in the layout, the text, the recipes and especially the pictures.
Let’s first discuss the layout. If we explore the chapters of this book we will find things like breakfast, salads, pasta, fight, thanksgiving, wait… what? Why the hell are we singling out a holiday and if we are, why Thanksgiving and don’t get me started on the chapter called fight.
Text. This is my favorite part of the book. There’s quite a bit of text outside of his recipes and it’s random as hell but entertaining. Anthony discusses his family a bit but also just some stray crap he feels like discussing. Like a full page on bacon. And a chapter on hamburger rules. Side note: Tony, you’re wrong about brioche buns. Just wrong. He also offers party tips like “Hopefully, some of your guests will be having sex after the party. Hopefully with you – but even if they’re not, you need to consider the residual effects of the hors d’oeuvres you serve them.” Don’t get me wrong, this seems like sound advice, just random. It’s very clear why the book is called “Appetites” because there was literally no other way to describe this all-encompassing food related manuscript.
Next, we come to recipes. This are even more strange. They literally vary from a skill level of an infant to a professional chef, which just throws me off a bit. Let me give you a few examples. Bodega Sandwich, which is literally a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a roll with salt and pepper. Cranberry relish- cranberries, orange and sugar. Then it’s like you turn the page and bam, you see the Kuching-Style Laksa, which is about 7 recipes inside one comprised of about 37 ingredients and 3 entire years of your life. And Portuguese squid and octopus soup, which has ingredients like “8 whole squid, beak removed and discarded and bodies peeled and cut into ¼ inch tubes.” It goes on and on, with Calf’s liver with bacon, leeks, apples and calvados and British style pheasant with bread sauce. Basically, crap that I flip to that page and I’m like, nope. Either I can’t find the ingredients or I can’t find my good ol’ hunting rifle or I’m seriously not interested at all in eating it because clearly my palate isn’t sophisticated enough.
Finally, we come to the pictures. This is how I envisioned the conversation between Anthony Bourdain and the editor.
Anthony: So on that page I’m going to have a photo of me eating the sandwich while I’m sitting on the toilet.
Anthony: Come on Rob, I’m not going to be taking a shit, I’ll have my pants on!
Anthony: And on this next page I’ll take a picture of the dip falling onto my toes, really kind of blurry so that the spoon it’s falling off of is the only thing in focus and my feet are a bit out of focus.
Editor: But generally, people don’t put things like toilets and their own goddamn feet in the photos of their cookbook.
Anthony: I’d also like photos of numerous raw animals, including a boar head and several types of poultry and seafood. And I’d like many pictures of my friends eating things in really unflattering ways. Like Eric Rupert dripping gravy out of his mouth with a strange and somewhat perverted look in the biscuits and gravy recipe. And let’s not put that in the breakfast chapter. Or in the sauces chapter. Let’s put it in meat.
Again, my ADHD brain thrives on what a cluster this thing is so don’t think I’m hating on it. The truth is, it’s a really entertaining book with several good recipes. Now to the one I’m discussing. Macau-style pork chop sandwich. If you are reading this and in your mind you’re pronouncing it, macaw, like the bird, back that thing up. It’s pronounced “ma-cow” and it’s in China. So as expected it has wonderful Asian flavors like soy sauce and 5 spice powder but also messes with you in the fact that it’s served on white bread with no vegetables or any sauce whatsoever aside from chili paste. I rolled with it though.
This sandwich was easy to make (if you don’t mind frying) and was really, really delicious. The recipe called for marinating the meat for 1-12 hours and although I only did 1 hour it was very flavorful. I am not the biggest pork fan but my husband loves a good fried pork chop so I knew he’d enjoy the recipe. The end result was wonderful. Really, really delicious. The pork was seriously so good that sauces and veggies on the sandwich were not missed. I had leftovers since it was just us that night and the following night served the pork with rice, steamed veggies and a simple Asian sauce that I threw together with soy sauce, garlic, rice vinegar and ginger and it was equally as great.
2 cups peanut oil, for frying, plus more as needed
8 slices white sandwich bread
Chili paste, for garnish
Pound the pork to ¼ inch thickness.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, five-spice powder and sugar. Place pork in a zip lock with the marinade, making sure everything is coated, seal and put in fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 12.
Remove chops from marinade and brush off garlic. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a tablespoon of water and place flour and panko in separate bowls. Season the flour with salt and pepper.
Add the oil to a heavy-bottomed frying pan (I used my large cast iron) and heat over medium-high.
Test the oil with a pinch of breadcrumbs and make sure they sizzle. Add the chops to the oil. My pan was big enough for 4 but if yours isn’t, do it in batches. Cook about 5 minutes/side. Remove the chops and let drain on a lines sheet pan or paper towel. Season lightly with salt.