Credit: Philip Lim/Instagram
Philip Lim is one of my favourite people to follow on Instagram, not only because I heavily subscribe to the designers’ vision for contemporary dressing but because of his evident commitment to staying #present and showing #gratitude for life’s many blessings.
No where else is this more evident than when he’s cooking in his open kitchen, where he displays a penchant for experimentation to match not only his cerebral ready-to-wear but his exquisite collection of contemporary art. Lim documents, as you would have by now gathered, not only the fruits but his labours by sharing recipes and videos of his culinary endeavours. One day it’s maple syrup and pepper-corn rubbed Cornish hen; the next, it’s Thai-style garlic-chilli quail; on another, shrimp burgers. It’s a wild ride, and I love it. Were it not such a hackneyed and fatuous expression, I would liken Lim’s lifestyle to #goals.
This afternoon, on the eve of Lunar New Year celebrations, Lim entered his SoHo kitchen and began documenting in mouth-watering fashion his “experimenting with cooking Chinese braised pork belly”, or Hong Shao Rou, an extremely appropriate dish considering not only the time of year but also its restorative properties. Cooking as a form of stress relief, if you will.
The dish is a wildly popular one throughout China’s provinces, and there are abundant variations to suit the preferences of each region, with as many variables as there are home cooks. What remains constant, however, is the succulent cherry-red braised pork – an effect achieved through braising meat in both light and dark soy and sugar – and its sweet, salty, glossy syrup. Otherwise it is, to hear Lim tell it, “pretty simple”.
Most recipes would advise that you first boil your pork belly for five minutes to remove impurities, before rinsing and cutting into bite-sized cubes. In a wok over a high flame, fry off your preferred aromatics – spring onion, ginger, star anise, and garlic are all popular additions – and then the pork until it begins to golden. Add Shaoxing cooking wine, light and dark soy and sugar, along with stock or hot water. Bring it all to a boil and then cover and simmer for anywhere from one hour to three, until reduced and the meat is tender. Serve, naturally, with steamed rice and greens.
“Stressful day at work,” wrote Lim at the outset of an ostensibly successful venture, which also included fried tofu and boiled and scored eggs (incisions allow the eggs to absorb the braise). “This is stress detox cooking!”
Take a leaf out of Lim’s book and try your hand Hong Shao Rou this Lunar New Year weekend, or failing that, just #bepresent. Whatever works for you.
Tile image: Philip Lim/Instagram
Cover image: Giorgio Lotti/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images