I wanted to get a strip of char siu, red roasted pork
(Masak-Masak gets the good stuff) from a Chinese market on Upper Charlotte. I had not been to this market in about a year, but they had the real deal Chinese prepared meat case with char siu, roasted pork and roasted duck hanging from hooks, so you can see exactly what you are buying. This was very San Francisco or New York of this market! When the owner opened this market about 3-4 years ago, I was so happy to finally see a Chinese Market in town. I had been to every market up on Charlotte, Nolensville, Murphreesboro Rd, and Antioch, and no dice for me. My quest for real good Chinese food in Nashville was on-going for years (and others, see Running Gags
who feels my pain), I had almost given up hope, and then this shop owner opened the market to my delight! Most other Asian markets in my town are Korean, Vietnamese, or multi-national, and just don't carry some of the uniquely Chinese ingredients or have the Chinese prepared meats. It is great if you want to make Korean or Vietnamese food, but not so good for specific Chinese ingredients.
Anyway, to my horror, after fighting rush hour traffic of the surface roads heading west towards Upper Charlotte (about 5 mi/hr as there is always a wreck during rush hour right outside St Thomas Hospital, yet the ambulance always seems to come from somewhere else and take the crash victims to another hospital...) -- I got to the my Chinese market to find that it has become a Mexican grocery with
a Mexican diner attached to it. I felt a bit PISSY after being in traffic for an hour (only 5 miles from my work), it is now 6:30 pm, and I am not even close to having any food in hand to make dinner. The next best Asian Market for Chinese ingredients is back towards my office (another 5 miles) and now the traffic is going the towards town with people wanting to go out on-the-town.
I get back to Lao Trading Co., and they were thinking about closing for night, there was guy with the key in door waiting for customers to leave, and then the ladies nod me in because they recognize me. They knew I usually run through the store quick to pick up a few things, and depart quickly, so I would not hold them up for closing time.
This time I pick up a pack of NOH Seasoning. Nate, from East Asia, claimed that red pork is easy, just get a package of the red seasoning, and follow the directions on the pouch. Note, easier said than done. The NOH Seasoning was the closest pack I could find, and on the top it said for duck and "ALSO FOR MAKING CHINESE ROAST PORK". I am thinking "Baby, I got it going now!" I paid my $1, thanked the ladies, and ran to the car. It was some time after 7 pm, and I went to Green Hills to buy pork, I was lacking sanity at this point, and I fought pre-X-Mas mall traffic, to pick up pork. What was I thinking? I should have just gone to Brentwood, 10 miles away in the wrong direction, and it would have been quicker than the 2 miles of Lexus and BMW SUV traffic driven by over extended soccer moms on cell phones trying to jockey for parking position.
So I got some thinnly sliced pork chops, and I get home at about 8 pm.
I was exhausted, and I still had dinner to make, and this vision of char siu dancing or obsessing in my mind. I was determined to make this red pork! So there! I followed the directions on the NOH Seasoning pouch, and let the pork marinate for 30 minutes. The pork wasn't red, but I thought maybe the pork will turn red once I cooked it. I pop it into the oven, and 30 minutes later it was after 9 pm an then TA DA! NO RED CHAR SUI PORK! AHHHH!
The pork chop was juicy and cooked all the way through, and that was good. The NOH Seasoning had good flavor. I presented my Russian Service Plate as the pork on top of a lump of short grain brown rice, next to sliced mango, sliced pineapple, romaine lettuce greens, and a leftover slice of canned pineapple. The dinner was good, but it ain't no Char Siu Red Pork!
What have I learned? I gotta go to San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, or Malaysia more often if I want Char Siu pork because it ain't happening here!