Vietnamese pork & Lambshanks

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This week, I’ve made a couple of more dishes from my bible, epicurious.com. I did my usual “I have this ingredient, now let’s find a recipe that uses it”. In this case it was star anise, which I’ve had for a time, and have now used in three recipes in a week 🙂
Monday night I made Vietnamese lemongrass pork. This was a dish similar to the grilled pork served at Vietnamese restaurants. It was quite good, though not really restaurant quality. I think what was missing for me was the grill flavors – I used my George foreman instead. The pork had a subtle lemongrass taste, and the accompanying sauce was very good – but perhaps had one too many tablespoons of fish sauce. I don’t feel compel to make this dish again, but then again, I seldom make a dish more than once.
Last night I had Braised Lamb Shanks with Coriander, Fennel, and Star Anise. Often times recipes are the result of evolution, cooks take a dish passed on by others, modify it somewhat, until with each modification it becomes something else. This lamb dish, however, seems to be the sort of dish that has to be specially created and experimented on by a very creative cook. It uses elements from different cuisines to come up with something original.
It was also quite good. The flavors were really different, the pepper and the fennel stood out, but were mollified by the other spices. I wouldn’t say that I was in love with it, and like the dish above, I probably won’t make it again, but I was definitely glad I made it and ate it, and do look forward to the leftovers. Mika, my 6.5 yo, liked the meat as well.
I served the lamb with an Israeli couscous/orzo/babychickpea mixture from Trader Joe’s, and I think the two went very well together.

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