The following recipe is part of an article originally published in Issue 9 of inCiderJapan magazine.
Wafu-style Pulled Pork Sandwiches
with Coleslaw Topping
As the thermometer rises, so does the nostalgic feeling of getting outdoors for a little summer grilling and barbecue. Whether it’s on a big city balcony, sandy beach, or next to a cool mountain river, lighting up a grill with family and friends is a time to sit back and unwind. Pulled pork barbecue with a thick and spicy Western Carolina ketchup sauce topped with some tangy, zippy coleslaw will pair nicely with this lovely modern cider.
I enjoyed growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, an area known for rolling acres of apple orchards, traditional farm cider, and the finest pulled pork barbecue.
Here’s my take on a great traditional summer pairing for this wonderfully crisp cider, a wafu (Japanese)-style pulled pork sandwich with just a dab of Western Carolina mixed in.
INGREDIENTS | SERVES 6-8
1.5kg boneless pork
*Beef or chicken can be substituted for pork, but pork shoulder (Boston butt) will deliver the best results due to its fat-to-lean meat ratio.
2 tbsp macadamia nut or vegetable oil for searing
Favorite buns, bread rolls, or tortillas for serving
For this recipe, cider brining is the recommended approach to ensuring your meat selection is tender and flavorful.
CIDER BRINE INGREDIENTS and PREPARATION
750ml quality semi-dry apple cider
250ml apple cider vinegar
200ml liquid shio koji
100gm brown sugar
100ml vegetable fruit sauce (Bull-dog brand sauce)
1 tbsp garlic powder or two fresh cloves minced
1 tbsp onion powder or one fresh red onion minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp shichimi togarashi
*For additional spiciness, use 2 tbsp
MAKING THE BRINE
- Pour yourself a glass of cider to enjoy (about 250ml).
- Combine all ingredients into a bowl, mix vigorously and pour 1/2 of the brine into a plastic bag and seal.
- Trim thick spots of excess fat from pork. Place pork in brine bag and massage for several minutes and store in refrigerator for three hours or more (overnight recommended).
Add 100ml of water to remaining brine and use to coat pork every 30 minutes while cooking.
ON THE GRILL, IN THE OVEN, OR IN A CROCKPOT/SLOW COOKER?
This dish can be prepared over low heat on a grill, in a standard convection oven, or a slow cook crockpot. Just remember low and slow: low heat over a long period of time is the best approach to a tender barbeque.
COOKING THE PORK
- Preheat oven to 120°C
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat macadamia nut or vegetable oil.
- Remove pork from brine bag, shake liquid off and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Apply a quick sear on all sides of the pork cut, then place seared pork in an aluminium foil-lined Dutch oven for grill, oven dish, or crockpot.
- Pour remaining brine around pork and cover with lid or aluminium foil (if you have a liquid injector, I recommend saving 10% of the brine to inject every hour during cooking), then transfer to oven and cook until pork begins to turn tender (about 3-4 hours). Remove cover and cook until pork is very tender and pulls apart easily with a fork.
- Remove pork and let rest 20 minutes while you prepare barbecue sauce.
WAFU BARBECUE SAUCE
250ml quality chunky ketchup
50ml apple cider vinegar
100ml grain in mustard, such as Maille Classic Dijon Old Style mustard
60gm brown sugar
100ml vegetable fruit sauce (Bull-dog brand)
2 tsp shichimi togarashi
MAKING THE SAUCE
- In a bowl, whisk in ketchup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, vegetable fruit sauce, and shichimi togarashi
- Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about eight minutes.
- Shred pork using two forks. Toss shredded meat with about half the barbecue sauce.
- Serve warm with your favorite toasted buns, or wraps, and more barbecue sauce.
WAFU COLESLAW TOPPING
Here is an easy to make wafu-style coleslaw to top your pulled pork with and add a bit of healthy crunch to the barbecue. This coleslaw is creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet. There’s nothing complicated about it at all, it’s just effortlessly perfect.
INGREDIENTS | Serves 4-6
1 large package (390gm) plain grocery coleslaw mix
1 crisp red apple
3 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp wasabi
2 tsp grain mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp shiokoji
3 tbsp pickle relish
freshly ground black pepper to taste
MAKING THE COLESLAW
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, amazake, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, shiokoji, mustard, wasabi and black pepper until smooth.
- Toss in shredded cabbage mix, pickle relish, and a portion of crisp apple along with some grated skin.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
When refrigerated and stored in an airtight container, coleslaw will stay good for up to three days. Toss well before serving and drain excess dressing before topping sandwich.
Suggested additional toppings: Roasted or pan-sautéed mushrooms or long green onions, caramelized onions, sharp cheddar cheese, fried eggs.