Tuesday 3 November 2009

Ham Hockusai


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.






Mondrian taxis at junction

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.

Pork Hockusai Cooking

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!

Pork Hockusai Wave

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.


Helen @ World Foodie Guide said...

Your parents' garden is spectacular. And I'm going to tell all the ramen chefs in Japan about your post! This deserves a little exhibit at the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum that I'm going to on Friday (first stop from airport)...

Browners said...

@Helen - Glad you like the garden and more importantly the ramen! If you can arrange for a special exhibit in Japan that would be great! Have a fantastic trip. I can't wait to read all about it.

Hollow Legs said...

Wow - what a fantastic garden! I especially like the first picture. You have very talented parents.

Glad to hear the Ham Hockusai went well, it looks delicious.

Browners said...

@Lizzie - Thanks! They're a bit mad really. Thanks for the tips. I've just been writing up the Laksa post as well and it seems you often pop up at the right time with some culinary advice!

Food Urchin said...

Blimey Browners, you'll have to let people know when the next opening is, your parents garden looks amazing.

The dish looks and sounds great, oh to surf such waves of ramen goodness.

Matt said...

Great photos and inspiration here - looks like you must've climbed into the bowl to take your shots?! :P

looking forward to the ham hockney!

Browners said...

@Food Urchin - Glad you like the garden. We're moving into bee-keeping, asparagus growing and improving our orchard. I'll send out details of their openings in the new year... I'd love you guys to potter up the M1 to pay us a visit!

@Matt - I did land up steaming up my lens by getting too close. I wish I'd had time to mock it up properly, but as ever hunger got the better of me! If you have any bright ideas about ham-hockney then I'd love to hear them!

helen.gravy@gmail.com said...

Woweee! That garden! Incredible. Your parents seem very creative and talented. The ham hock sounds delicious. I got a bit obsessed with ham hocks a while back what with them being so delicious and of course, being pig.

Browners said...

@Helen - All hail the pig. Especially the lovely hocky bits. The Olds are great - if a bit bonkers!

Browners said...
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