Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sugar does not melt and braised pork

Braised pork with rice
Food Diary (July 26, 2011)
Breakfast: Rolled oats with raisins, nectarine, coconut and sesame seeds
Lunch: Braised pork with rice
Dinner: Pickled cabbage, apple and cucumber salad
Baking/sweets: Semolina coconut chocolate cookies

To make the braising liquid I used soy sauce, hoisin sauce, molasses, Chinese 5-spice powder and chilli. The meat was seared first for the 'Maillard reaction' to do its magic before the meat went for a lengthy and soothing warm bath. The meat was not ‘fall off the bone’ tender simply because it was boneless.

I generally like to use cheaper (secondary) cuts of meat such as hocks or belly but this time I used a more tender cut. Perhaps I was feeling a little generous. Or perhaps there was no cheap cuts at home. The tender meat cooked faster obviously but lacked the depth of flavor and texture that secondary cuts bring to the party. You often see recipes suggesting using ‘good quality cocoa powder or chocolate’. Braised pork is one of those exceptions, use a cheap cut of meat, not a good quality expensive cut of meat. Cheap is good. The recipe is available here.

Today's Favourite Photo
Source: Söta Saker

Today’s Favourite Blog
A very interesting discovery – when you heat sugar it does not melt, it decomposes. From the practical perspective this means that rather than melting at one definitive temperature, sugar can become a liquid at different temperatures depending on the heating rate. 

For most home cooks I suppose this is interesting to know but of no use. We will still ‘melt’ sugar the same way. Some of the more adventurous cooks may replace the word ‘melt’ with ‘decompose’ in their recipes, but they risk losing friends! 

However the melt versus decompose distinction may have implications for candy makers. What the implications are is yet to be determined but the professionals may be able to put this new found knowledge to some use. 


  1. I just decomposed some sugar today! LOL, it tasted pretty darn good on a peach cake. Your pork looks delicious...I agree that some of those cheap cuts really taste great if cooked right~

  2. wow I love that braised pork! Just beautiful!

  3. Ooo yum! That braised pork looks very similar to our local "tau yew bak" which I love using the slow cooker to cook in.
    Man! It's so hot and humid here, think I'll go squeeze some lemons and mix with some decomposed sugar for a nice fresh ...eewww, suddenly, it doesn't sound too exciting. I'll go for iced green tea instead without any decomposed stuff.

  4. Your braised pork looks devine!

  5. The sauce you used for that pork sounds so tasty!

  6. This is a particularly beautiful photo! It is dark and glazed, like the braised pork I love... I also make braised pork quite often (although with different spices, but also Chinese way). I always do it with pork ribs or pork belly and once, when I tried the same dish with lean pork it was a disaster!
    I sear meat when I roast pork or turkey. Pork doesn't get dry this way and turkey is at least less dry. I bought several months ago special, old-fashioned pans, perfect for Maillard reaction. They are made of steel, reach very high temperatures, shouldn't be washed too much -and oiled before storing - and the more one uses them, the better they work (and also the darker they are). Of course they last forever. I wonder why I have waited such a long time before buying them...
    Even a fried egg has an incredible taste!

  7. You had me at the title. I was intrigued to see my sugar doesn't melt and then to discover it just decomposes is so cool to learn. Love finding out new things about food. Your braised pork looks HEAVENLY and by that I mean I could eat it all by myself, the whole thing. it looks so good

  8. ahhh i had rolled oats for breakfast too. :) i love adding fruit to it too. i had mine with raw cashew butter from artisana. :)

  9. Lizzy: that was very funny! I could not stop laughing. Yes decomposed sugar does go well with peach cake

    Angie: thank you, and it was nice to eat too!

    ping: Very funny! So you had unsweetened iced tea because the sweetened stuff might have decomposed sugar:)

    Cakelaw and Maris: thank you!

    Joanne: Yes it was. Its the first time I tried this combination and it worked. I have never used molasses for braising before

    Sissi: I think you are talking about the cast iron pans. Are they really heavy? I have been planning to buy that also. Its fantastic but required a little bit of care.

    Kitchen Belleicious: thank you, unfortunately I ate it all myself

    Junia: great minds think alike:) Good to know you had healthy breakfast also. I have never tried rolled oats with raw cashew butter or with peanut butter. I am now curious

  10. That is a gorgeous piece of meat. It looks like it's just begging to be eaten.

  11. Your braised pork looks amazing!

  12. That photo is so lovely, it made me really hungry specially that glaze. Yum!