"Bored of making bread crumbs and having a dislike for Panko, I opted for something that would give me crunch and flavor that I could buy in packs at the Asian supermarket."
Total time: 7 hours
1 large pork jowl with skin on (ask your butcher to remove glands and shave it clean)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup rock salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 quarts duck fat or lard
1 cup mirin
shrimp coating for cheek
1 packet dehydrated whole baby shrimp, available at most Asian supermarkets
1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup potato starch for dusting
2 eggs, beaten
brussels sprout salad
10 brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
8 breakfast radishes, thinly sliced
2 long red chilis, finely chopped (throw a bird's eye chili in if you want more heat)
2 tablespoons fermented soybeans
4 tablespoons sesame oil
lemon juice and mirin, to taste
1/2 cup fried shallots, available in Asian supermarkets
2 good handfuls coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
There is an element of judgement involved in the preparation of the jowl, if your butcher can only find small jowls for you get two, split the recipe and salt for less time. I strongly recommend cooking the jowl a day ahead so it has plenty of time to cool making it easier to cube.
1. Set your oven to 300° F (150° C).
2. Lightly coat your cheek in the oil, mix the rock salt and garlic together and massage the salty garlic mix into the Jowl till it looks completely frosted with salt. Leave it alone in the fridge for at least four hours. If you want to leave the jowl over night, use a little less salt.
3. Melt the duck fat over a low heat. When melted, raise the heat a little till you reach a steady bubble. Avoid boiling.
4. You will need to have an oven proof dish large enough to accommodate the jowl and the fat. Scrape the salt from the jowl, place in the dish skin side up, and pour the hot fat into the dish till the cheek is submerged. Add the mirin, cover with greaseproof paper, followed by a tight layer of tin foil. Cook in the oven till a skewer goes in and out easily. Be sensible and leave a decent gap between the fat and the rim of the dish/pan, as this will make it easy to transport from the oven and reduce the chances of spilling hot fat all over yourself. Depending on the size of your cheek and the quality of your oven, this can take anywhere between 2-5 hours, hence the recommendation to do this stage of the dish in advance.
5. When you've poked your jowl and are satisfied with its softness, recover it with the parchment and foil and allow time to cool. Don't put the hot dish full of hot far into the fridge—your fridge won't like that.
6. Once everything is cool, remove the jowl if you're using immediately. If not, keep refrigerated and covered in the fat for up to a month.
7. Empty half the packet of shrimp onto the chopping board and run a knife through them just to break them up a bit. In a bowl, mix the black sesame with the whole and chopped dried shrimp with a pinch or two of potato starch.
8. Time to coat the jowl. Dice the cheek into cubes (I like big, fat ones with a large surface area to increase crunch potential—you may prefer smaller ones, there are no rules). Dust each cube with potato starch, dip each cube in the egg till covered, and drop into the waiting bowl of shrimp and sesame. Toss around till every facet is covered in shrimp and sesame—the chopped bits of shrimp should fill any gaps quite nicely.
9. While the jowl is ticking along slowly, you can prepare the salad. Mix the brussels sprouts, radish, and chili together with the fermented soya beans. Add the sesame seed oil, lemon juice, and mirin to taste, depending on how zesty/sweet you like your salads.
10. Once the jowls are golden and crispy on every side, pat lightly on a paper towel to rid them of any excess oil. Place the shrimpy jowl cubes on a platter, heap the salad on top, and finish with the fried shallots and cilantro. I think this dish lends itself very well to family style dining.