Each month I say it and each month it’s true, I adore The Secret Recipe Club and reveal day is the best! The group was started by Amanda back in April of this year with only nineteen participants for the first reveal. By the time I joined and got into the rotation it was the June reveal and I posted my recipe for Home Style Chicken Curry along with 96 other recipes from food bloggers who were also playing along. In July the group grew even more and my Holy Guacamole shared the page with 166 other wonderful recipes. Amanda had so many more food bloggers that wanted to participate that she split the group so that in August 196 bloggers posted their recipes split over three different reveal days and I posted my recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken. September brought even more members and wonderful recipes, 226 in total and I found and made yet another winning recipe, Welsh Cakes. Last month so many more food bloggers wanted in to the group that a fourth posting date for each month was added with 250 participants. We are split into groups A,B, C & D and last month I actually got to post with two of the groups because a week before group “C” reveal someone wasn’t able to follow through with their posting. I posted with Group “A” on my assigned reveal day Levain Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies and then I filled in for a blogger in group “C” and I posted a recipe for Thin Mint Irish Coffee…YUM!! Not only am I finding and posting wonderful recipes from my assigned blogs but so many of the other recipes that are being posted each month are tempting and delicious looking.
Also tempting and delicious looking were so many of the recipes on my assigned blog this month, Sara’s Cupcake Muffin. So you’d think with being assigned a blog named Cupcake Muffin I’d have a gorgeous baked sweet gracing this page and trust me, I almost did as Sara has numerous sweet treats on her blog and I debated about some of them including her Lemon Cream Tart, Lemon Ricotta Cookies, Sour Cherry-Pistachio Crumble, Real Sour Cherry Crisp, Apple Cobbler Bars, Simple Yellow Cupcake with Tangerine Curd, Rhubarb Steamed Pudding, Banana Cake with Crackly Brown Sugar Frosting and Sour Cream Apple Pie with Lemon Cardamom Streusel. Yes so many gorgeous looking sweets and all of these have been added to my '”need to make” file. Also added to that file are some of Sara’s savory dishes including Thai Cucumber Salad, Murgh Makhani, Campanelle with Vodka Sauce, Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Udon Chicken Salad with Snap Peas and Mustard Chicken with Fresh Corn Polenta, all so delicious looking and sounding.
In the end what really caught my eye was Sara’s Hunan Braised Spareribs and Mustard Greens. Our weather in Atlanta has become quite chilly at night so a nice hearty meal called to me as did the flavors in her recipe as they sounded delicious. Also when I read what she wrote about the recipe, that the original recipe she adapted from used pork belly, which I had in the freezer, and her version turned out with a lot more broth than what she adapted from, well right there it was Pork Belly Soup. I really followed the spices in Sara’s recipe but because I wanted even more broth so to actually have a soup, I just increased the spice and liquid amounts. The addition of mustard greens sounded wonderful but I just wasn’t finding them at my local market so to keep with the theme of greens I substituted collard greens which were beyond delicious in the soup. Also at the last minute I decided that I wanted to bulk the soup up a wee bit more so I added a few of our favorite ingredients which I thought would work well, sliced water chestnuts, sliced bamboo shoots and straw mushrooms.
The soup was rich, delicately flavored and with a touch of sweetness. The balance of the spices was spot on and even with all the chilies, it really had only the tiniest amount of heat. The day that I was making the soup I was in and out of the house running Maisie to and from her activities. Each time I entered the house it smelled delicious and reminded me so much of the great pork belly and other foods we enjoyed when we were in Guangzhou. Smells can bring back so many memories. We so much enjoyed this soup and I will definitely be making again along with some of Sara’s other wonderful sounding recipes.
3 pounds pork belly
4 TBS peanut oil
1/3 cup palm sugar
1/3 cup Shaoxing wine
3 inch piece fresh ginger, skin left on and sliced thick
5 whole star anise
6 dried red chilies
2 large cinnamon sticks
4 cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
9 cups Cheaters Chicken Soup or chicken stock
1 16-oz. bag frozen chopped collard greens
2 8-oz. cans sliced water chestnuts, rinsed & drained
1 8-oz. can sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed & drained
2 15-oz. cans straw mushrooms, rinsed & drained
Korean noodles or pasta of your choice, prepared according to package directions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the whole pork belly. Bring the water back to a boil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the pork is just partially cooked. Remove the pork from the water and let cool for a few minutes. Then cut into a bite-sized pieces.
In a large stockpot add the peanut oil and palm sugar and cook, stirring often until the sugar dissolves. Then turn the heat to medium and cook until the sugar turns a rich caramel brown. Keep a close eye as the sugar can burn easily. Add the Shaoxing wine and stir to blend. Add the pork and stir well. Add the ginger, whole star anise, dried red chilies, cinnamon sticks, garlic and chicken stock. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 1 hour or until the meat is cooked through and tender.
Strain the soup and set the solids aside while you chill the broth so to easily skim the fat. Once the fat has been removed return the broth to the pot along with all the solids. Add the collard greens, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots & straw mushrooms. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the collard greens are cooked and soft.
Place some pasta in a large bowl, ladle in the soup and serve topped with chopped scallions and a splash of soy sauce.