Leave it to Ming Tsai to come up with a Japanese version of Southwestern chili.
The kind that is made for curling up with on a blustery night.
It’s a hearty bowl that will warm you from the inside out with cubes of tender pork, chunks of sweet potatoes, bright green edamame, and a hit of miso.
It’s from his newest cookbook, “Simply Ming in Your Kitchen” (Kyle), of which I just received a review copy. It’s a clever book of 80 recipes, each of which has an embedded QR code that can be scanned to unlock a video of Tsai cooking the dish from start to finish. Sixteen of the videos — two from each chapter — are free. The others can be purchased from Ming.com.
He was inspired to make it after enjoying pork stew in Santa Fe. But because Hatch green chiles are not always easy to come by outside of New Mexico, he substitutes a mix of jalapenos and green bell peppers. He chars them over an open flame, then peels off their blistered skins, leaving behind a grassy spiciness that mimics that of Hatch chiles. Because I can only take green bell peppers in small doses, I used a mix of red and green bell peppers. Feel free to do the same. Or not.
The cubes of pork shoulder — marinated in heady blend of paprika, chile, and onion and garlic powders — simmer with the peppers, onions, stock and miso for about 90 minutes until tender, before the edamame and sweet potatoes are added in.
It’s a brothy stew with chunks of meat and veggies, made all the more savory and complex tasting from the miso.
Tsai likes to serve bowls of it with crusty bread. But my Japanese-American husband loved it even more with a big mound of steamed rice in the middle of the bowl to soak up all that soupy goodness.
Chile Miso Pork Stew
(Serves 6 to 8 )
4 jalapeno peppers
3 green bell peppers or red bell peppers
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon natural onion powder
1 tablespoon natural garlic powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
2 pounds pork butt (shoulder), cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons canola oil, plus additional if needed
2 large onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts fresh chicken stock or low-sodium bought
4 tablespoons shiro miso (white miso)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups shelled edamame
Crusty bread or steamed rice
Turn a gas burner to high. Skewer the jalapenos on a metal skewer and place on the burner. Allow peppers to bubble and turn black, 2 to 3 minutes. When one side is charred, protecting your fingers with a potholder or kitchen towel, turn the skewer and char the peppers on the second side, 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, char the peppers under the broiler. Transfer to a brown paper bag, close the bag and let sit to steam for 5 to 10 minutes. This helps loosen the skin. Remove the peppers and discard the stem, seeds, and veins. Repeat procedure with the bell peppers, turning them with tongs until they’re blistered on all sides. Cut the peppers into 1-inch pieces and transfer them and the chiles to a plate. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine paprika and chile, onion and garlic powders. Add 2 tablespoons salt and mix well. Add pork, toss to coat it well, and transfer to the refrigerator to flavor for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Heat a small stock pot or heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add half the pork and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate and set aside. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and the remaining pork.
Wipe out the pot and heat over medium-high heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Swirl to coat the bottom and when the oil is hot, add onions and garlic and saute, stirring, until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add peeled peppers, return the pork to the pot. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Place miso in a strainer, dip it into the stock and whisk to dissolve the miso into the soup. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and simmer until the pork is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Add sweet potatoes and edamame and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to individual bowls and serve with the bread or a scoop of steamed rice.
To Drink: A lager, like Yanjing, or an off-dry Riesling, like Leitz “Eins Zwei Dry.”
Adapted from “Simply Ming in Your Kitchen” by Ming Tsai
More Ming Tsai Recipes: Savory Braised Oxtails with Preserved Lemon Polenta
Plus: My Q&A with Ming Tsai