Chinese Boar And Plum Stew

With all the fancy trimmings.

It all started with a wonderful, oppulent piece of boar shoulder and the question “what are we going to do with it?” Chantal wanted something with dried plums and I had more of an Asian approach in mind. Luckily both fit nicely together, as plum sauce is a staple of Chinese cooking. We freestyled this recipe, tuned it up with some nice sides and toppings and can proudly attest: gorgeous! Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

The stew is very basic and easily prepared. While the sides and toppings are all equally simple, preparing so many different components can be quite a labour. You don’t need them, the stew is tasty alone with a simple bowl of rice, so feel free to omit components depending on how much time you want to spend in the kitchen.

Game is an incredible meat. Dark, lean (yes, boar is also quite lean, despite being “pork”) and always something special. So don’t hesitate to buy some if you have the opportunity. I also think of it as the most “natural” source of meat there is. Living all day all year in the forests. No transports, no slaughterhouse, just a well placed shot. If modern “animal processing” offends you, game might be a solution for you.

Ingredients

for the stew:

  • 1,8kg wild boar (a lean cut like shoulder)
  • 500g dried plums
  • 500g scallions
  • 20g garlic
  • 90g fresh ginger
  • 50 flour
  • 170ml soy sauce
  • 20g sugar plus additional sweetener to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 20ml olive oil
  • as much star anise as you dare to use (I used a small handful), five spices, salt and pepper to taste

for the sides:

  • a bunch of radishes
  • sticky rice
  • one medium sized broccoli head
  • a thumb sized piece of ginger
  • a tbsp of chili flakes and sesame seeds, a tsp of dried onion and garlic, sweetener to taste, salt to taste (for the umami crunch)

Instructions

for the stew:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C. Cut the game meat into bite sized chunks and brown them on all sides, with the olive oil, in the roasting tray/dutch oven you are going to use for the stew. You might do this in several batches to prevent the tray from overcrowding.
  2. Cut off the green part of the scallions and reserve for later (keep them in the fridge so they don’t wilt). Finely chop up the white part and add to the roasting tray. Peel and finely slice the garlic and ginger and add to the tray.
  3. When the meat is coloured properly, add the flour, stir and let take a little colour again. Deglaze with soy sauce, stiring continuously to remove all the sticky party from the tray. Add the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, star anise, spices and about 250ml water.
  4. Add the dried plums, cover tightly and cook in the oven for about 2 hours or until tender.
  5. If you are just going to prepare the stew, remove from the oven, check seasoning, and finely slice the scallion greens to use them as the topping. Done. If you want to go all-in on the toppings and sides, use the cooking time of the stew to prepare them as follows:

for the sides:

  1. Pickles: Very finely slice the radishes and pickle them with a generous amount of salt, a little sweetener and a splash of vinegar. Cover tightly and store in the fridge.
  2. Garnish: Heat some olive oil in a small sauce pan. Very finely slice the ginger and fry in the hot olive oil until crispy. You can also fry the scallion roots if they are pretty. Let drain on kitchen paper.
  3. Umami crunch: Using the same olive oil, fry the sesame seeds, chili flakes, garlic and onion powder until nice and golden. Add some salt and sweetener and set aside for garnish.
  4. Rice and broccoli: Prepare as much sticky rice as you need using a rice cooker, following its instructions. Mine can be used as a steamer while cooking rice, so I broke up a small broccoli head into the florets and steamed them for about ten minutes or until tender. You can also use the stalk, just trim away the rind and cut into smaller pieces. Don’t steam the broccoli too long to keep its colour.

Macros

100g of the boar stew have the following macros:

  • 135kcal
  • 12,8g protein
  • 11,9g carbs
  • 3,7g fat

You have to calculate the sides extra. For simplicity I would suggest you track the umami crunch as sesame seeds. Track a little extra olive oil for the fried ginger and scallion roots. The rest is easy.

Take your time plating this up. Maybe preheat the bowls a little in the oven. Start with the rice, add the stew, then the steamed broccoli. Carefully place all the sides and toppings. Season the broccoli with the umami crunch. This is a dish for special occasions, so it deserves some extra love. Get a nice craft beer to go with it, nowadays even the alcohol free versions are delicious. Celebrate and enjoy life!

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