Pork and Shiitake Lasagna

28Sep09

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I couldn’t help myself. I just *had* to experiment with a second lasagna dish for the foodie group’s lasagna competition. Something with an Asian slant.

Ingredients:

Fresh Pork belly, 800 grams (approx 1.8 lbs)
Green Tea leaves, 2 tablespoons
Fresh Garlic, two medium cloves
Fresh Shiitake mushrooms, 8 large
Pine nuts, 1/4 cup
Korean chili paste, 1/4 teaspoon
Lemon juice, 1 teaspoon
Chinese spice mix

homemade white sauce (1&1/2 cups to 2 cups worth)
Gyoza wrappers

I made two cups of white sauce using 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1 cup milk per cup of sauce. After it thickened, I stirred in a teaspoon of Chinese seasoning mix (main ingredients are pork extract, chicken extract, vegetable extract, oyster sauce, black pepper, and garlic).

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To prep the pork, I put it in a pot with the tea leaves and enough water to barely cover the pork. I brought it to boil and simmered it for about 15 minutes. Then I turned off the fire, and let it sit for half an hour till it was cooked through. Then I removed the pork belly,removed some of the fat layer, and chopped the meat into bite-sized pieces. These pieces I cooked in a tiny bit of oil, over medium heat, in a wok, along with the garlic, to remove some more of the fat. After draining off the fat, I added 1/2 teaspoon of Chinese seasoning mix. Then I took it off the fire and stirred in a little of the white sauce to give it cohesion.

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To prep the shiitake mushrooms, I removed the hard tip of the mushroom stem and diced the rest of the stem and the caps. I stir-fried this, along with the pine nuts, in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. I added the chili paste and lemon juice to the mix and stir-fried it some more. I stirred in a little of the white sauce to give it cohesion.

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To put the “lasagna” together, I laid out my prepped ingredients and a lightly oiled pyrex loaf pan. My loaf pan is small, holding about half the volume of what is used in most American homes. I was concerned that I didn’t have a utensil that could lift out the sliced lasagna when it was cooked, so I lined my loaf pan with parchment paper with the edges sticking out of the two long sides, so that I could lift the lasagna out after it had settled.

I spread some white sauce on the bottom of the loaf pan. Then laid an overlapping layer of gyoza wrappers over that (it took four wrappers per layer). Laid 1/2 of the shiitake & pine nut mixture over that. Laid another layer of gyoza wrappers over that. Laid 1/2 of the pork mixture over that. Drizzled that layer with a little white sauce. Laid another layer of gyoza wrappers, remainder of shiitake & pine nuts, another layer of gyoza wrappers, remainder of pork. Topped the final layer with remaining white sauce, and sprinkled it all with 1&1/2 tablespoons of grated parmesan. The finished product had a total of four layers.

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I baked the “lasagna” in a 180 C (350 F) degree oven for 50 minutes, covering it with a tent of foil during the last ten minutes, when the top looked like it might get burnt. I took it out of the oven and let the ingredients settle and cool, before lifting it out by the edges of the parchment paper and slicing it to serve.

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This was very very good. It had a full, complex flavor. The spiciness was just right for me. My husband thought it was too much, but if you like spicy food, you can increase the amount of chili paste.

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