Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Song of the South

Oops! I was going to spend the weeks leading up to Tet (Lunar New Year) celebrating Vietnamese food, but since we had our annual Southern Blues Party on Saturday night, I feel that I must digress. For more than three years, my sister Julie, my cousin Jeanne, and I have been throwing themed dinner parties at Jeanne’s house—Jeanne is truly a hostess extraordinaire. We throw two to three a year, and themes have included: Greek, Latin, Italian No Pasta, French, and 60s Kitsch (I made Twinkie Tiramisu). But Southern Blues was so much fun the first time that it’s now a tradition.

This year we had about 30 people, old friends and new—as is always the case. Julie is STILL in London, so she missed out, and we missed her. We also had ridiculous amounts of food. Everyone is encouraged to bring a dish and some people brought up to three. We had fried chicken, spicy coleslaw, glazed ham, biscuits, corn bread, three different kinds of mac ‘n cheese, Natalie’s famous spinach Madeleine … I know there was more, but I’m still kind of dazed from all the eating and can’t think clearly. The one thing we missed out on was grits; when my friend Ann went to the grocery store to buy some, she was told there was a recall. Who knew grits could be recalled! Oh yes, there was also plenty of bourbon, including a marvelous apple spiced infusion courtesy of Jeanne.

I made two dishes: Pulled Pork & Pecan-Coated Catfish. Both were ridiculously easy. Enjoy!

Pulled Pork
(adapted from About.com)

This recipe was my excuse to try the new crockpot my parents bought me for Christmas. Works like a charm!


- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Tabasco
- 3-4 lbs pork shoulder roast (it’s okay if it’s on the bone)
- 5-6 dashes liquid smoke
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp ketchup


1) In a large non-metallic bowl, combine cider vinegar, chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce. Add the pork roast, cover, and marinate in refrigerator for up to 6 hours and as long as overnight. Turn occasionally to keep roast coated with marinade.

2) Remove the pork from the marinade, scraping the onion back into the marinade. Lightly pat the roast dry with paper towels. Pour the marinade into a slow cooker and add the Liquid Smoke. Place a slow cooker meat rack or ring of foil in the slow cooker.

3) Combine the sugar, salt, paprika, and pepper in a cup. Rub the pork roast with the seasoning mixture and place on the rack in crockpot.

4) Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours, or until very tender. Transfer the pork to a cutting board; cover with foil to keep warm.

5) Skim the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Stir in the ketchup.

6) Using 2 forks, pull the pork apart into shreds. Return the pork to the crockpot and stir liquid through it. You may want to first drain out some of the liquid, if it looks like there’s too much. You can always add more later.

7) For potlucks, set the dish beside a place of biscuits or hamburger buns and let everybody go for it.

Serves up to 8.

Pecan Coated Catfish
(adapted from Teri’s Kitchen: teriskitchen.com)


- 4 catfish fillets, about 6 ounces each (I couldn’t get catfish and so used sole, which was excellent. You can also use halibut.)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp fresh dill weed
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley
- Olive oil
- Lemon wedges


1) Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter or spray a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.

2) Place fish in dish; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3) Grind the pecans in a food processor until finely chopped. Throw in the breadcrumbs and grind some more. Throw in the dill, parsley, and cheese, and grind even more. (Don’t even bother chopping the dill and parsley beforehand). Stir in the butter and mustard and mix until well combined.

4) Pat the crumbs onto the top of each fillet. Drizzle with olive oil (I didn’t, and it turned out nice and flaky).

5)Bake until fish is done, about 15 minutes. (I needed to bake a little longer than 15 minutes for fillets ¾ inch thick).

6) If desired, place under broiler for additional browning of crust. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Serves 4.


The Town Criers said...

Mmmmm, I love dinner parties. And I'm so excited to find your blog--thank you for commenting on mine. When we eat out, it is almost always Vietnamese or Thai. And it is the majority of what I cook. Would love recommendations for any good vegetarian Vietnamese or Thai recipe sources you know and look forward to finding out more about your book.

Kim said...

It's always a pleasure to exchange recipes and recommendations. There are so many wonderful vegetarian Vietnamese dishes, but sadly I don't know of a great website or cookbook ... My friend Ann Le (The Little Saigon Cookbook) has been considering such a book, but that's a project for the future. If I come across anything, I'll let you know. Kim