Tuesday, 3 November 2009
To say my parents are keen gardeners would be like saying that Prince Phillip is a trifle conservative. Mum writes gardening books and is a garden designer. Dad spends every second he’s not at work in his overalls doing as Mum says…
Our garden has developed over the 20 years we’ve lived there from being a bunch of fields into a gallery of different artistic rooms . Mum and Dad have created amazing garden rooms inspired by Hepworth, Monet, Rothko, Mondrian, Kandinsky and Hokusai.
It’s a very lateral approach to gardening that oozes creativity. The idea is not to copy or try to replicate the art/painting but to capture the mood and the concept behind it and express it as a three dimensional piece of living, breathing art that might otherwise be called a garden!
So I thought it would be a good idea to pick up where Mum, Dad and Hokusai left off and create a dish that’s inspired by an artist. And when I picked up a cheap as chips ham hock in Waitrose I couldn’t resist creating a dish called Ham Hockusai.
Feeling excited and bubbling over like a glass that’s full to the brim with water and then is depth charged with Berocca, I sought help on Twitter. Lizzie came to my help and suggested braising the pork hock in a mixture of soy, ginger and mirin. We used this as inspiration to create what might otherwise be called a ham hock ramen…
Trim your ham hock. Because you are going to slow cook it you don’t want too much fat floating around. Then put your hock in the slow cooker (AKA Stewie Grifin) and pour in half a bottle of light soy, a sachet of miso soup powder, and enough stock to cover the hock. Then throw in some spring onions, a generous amount of root ginger, 2 star anise, a few chillies and a glug of sake and mirin. Turn on the slow cooker and allow it to bubble away for 5 hours, or until the meat yields.
Then separate the meat from the liquid. Set the meat aside and strain the liquid to remove the floating vegetation. This liquid is like gold dust, so don’t spill any like I did!
Pour the liquid into a pan and place on the heat. Meanwhile, pull the pork apart and keep nearby. Heat a wok and make a stir fry of enoki and shitake mushrooms, pak-choi, beansprouts, garlic, ginger and more chilli. Then add the meat to heat through.
Add some ramen noodles to the broth and once they are soft assemble your Ham Hockusai in a large soup bowl and garnish with sesame seeds and spring onions. I did my best to recreate the Great Wave off Kanagawa but gravity got the better of my noodles!
This has no pretention of being the most authentic Japanese dish. But it was not only huge fun to cook, but incredibly tasty and healthy to eat. The depth of flavour from the stock just kept on going. The pork itself was a delight. It transformed from being tough, flabby and generally being a bit like a tight-head prop into a graceful winger.
Next time, we’re going to cook Ham Hockney – I’m just less sure how to cook it. If you’ve got any suggestions about how to make a piggy David Hockney dish or any other artist inspired recipe I’d love to know.
Have a look at Mum's website and blog to find out more about the garden. It's open to the public a handful of times a year and you can also book for private groups.