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How Thomas Chen Makes the Perfect Bite of Pig at His East Village Hit Tuome

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Welcome to The Hot Dish, a behind the scenes look at the making of the dishes of the moment. Up this week, Thomas Chen shows us how he prepares his "Pig Out," the pork dish for two that has been taking the East Village by storm.

Chef Thomas Chen was inspired by the roasted Cantonese meats found hanging in the windows of Chinatown restaurants when he came up with what's known as the "Pig Out" at Tuome, his East Village breakout hit. The dish has proven to be the most popular menu item. "I wanted to create a refined version" of those meats "using traditional condiments with a modern twist, balancing out flavors, boosting acidity and sweetness" says the chef. The dish is a nod to another meaty Chinese classic as well: The skin on the pork is as crisp and lush as that of the finest Peking duck, and Chen appropriately garnishes it with hoisin sauce.

To make the dish, Chen takes whole Berkshire pork bellies and cures them in thyme, ginger and salt for five hours before confiting them in duck fat for 15 hours. He then shreds the meat and lays it out on a sheet of pig skin, pressing it down and allowing it to cool. This create a terrine of sorts, with the gelatin in the meat binding everything. Once cooled, the pork is sliced into two inch diamonds and heated in a pan, rendering the skin shatteringly crisp. The pork is served with an arugula salad dotted with persimmons (the fruit changes seasonally) and candied walnuts, peanut noodles, a ginger scallion sauce, and a squeeze bottle of sambal. Chen recommends putting a little of the last two on each each piece of pork to achieve the "perfect bite."

See how Chen brings the dish to the table in the slideshow above.


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