Hangover Helper: Burmese Red Pork Stew at Tasty n Sons in Portland, OR
Burma probably isn't the first place your mind jumps to when you think of hangover food, and it's doubtful that rice, pork shoulder, and chili oil are your brain's first associations with brunch. Yet the Burmese red pork stew ($10) at Tasty n Sons in Portland, Oregon, fits the bill mightily, quashing the pounding in your skull with a hearty, spicy, and extremely satisfying bowl of protein that's delicious any hour of the day.
Developed by Portland food god John Gorham (owner of Portland's premier tapas restaurant, Toro Bravo, and refined watering hole Interurban Tavern) after learning the family recipe of a Burmese friend, the Tasty n Sons' version of the dish earned national fame with a spot on Bon Appétit's Most Interesting Breakfasts in the Country.
A cube of fatty pork belly and several hunks of tender pork shoulder first spend several hours in a marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili oil. The meat next undergoes a long braise in a syrup of caramel, garlic, ginger, and chili paste before it's ladled on a bed of steamed white rice. The dish gets a touch of Portland (or is that Portlandia?) with the addition of chopped egg pickled in honey, soy sauce, and star anise. A second egg draped over the pork to allow the yolk to spill over everything beneath it completes the stew and helps nudge it a little closer to the breakfast end of the meal spectrum.
There are a lot of flavors at play in this dish, but the sweetness of the glaze on the pork (think of the sticky red sauce on sesame beef/pork/chicken at a good Chinese restaurant and you're not far off) shines through brightest. The heat of the Calabrian chiles follows the sugary braise with a mild burn on the tongue. Bits of the pickled egg, tasting heavily of the soy brine but not overpoweringly so, are interspersed perfectly with the meat and seem to pop up in spoonfuls of the stew at all the right moments. The pork is served with enough of the sauce for it to seep down and penetrate the deepest grains of rice, ensuring even the meatless portions of the dish are packed with flavor. This is the kind of food that warms the soul and leaves your body sighing contentedly.
Don't feel like driving/flying/hitchhiking all the way to Portland to try Gorham's stew? You're in luck! Bon Appétit has the full recipe for you here. Just be sure to make it ahead of time in anticipation of your night of boozing, unless you have the miraculous willpower to wait out the six-hour marinade with your brain on fire.
Tasty n Sons
About the author: Adam Lindsley is a Pacific Northwest-based writer, musician, and the author of the pizza blog, This Is Pizza. You can follow him at @ThisIsPizza on Twitter. Astonishingly, he really enjoys burgers, pizza, beer, and doughnuts.