Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Shoulder

I’m a people person… and so is hubby and so are the kids! I’m SO glad there aren’t any extreme introverts in our family… at least not as of yet! We LOVE having people over and thrive on company, conversation, games and shared food. We have a lot of friends in our neighborhood. Some from church and others that we have just met on the street, at the playground, at the pool and even at the library! We know most of the people on our street, at least to say hello and have enjoyed meals with quite a few of them as well. It has been so nice to feel like we belong and know where we live and who we live with. We love community!

All that said, we had friends over last night for dinner and served one of our favorite dinners! It is always a hit with the family and friends and whoever else tries it! It is SO easy. I can often to most of the prep work earlier in the week or earlier in the morning so that all I have to do is turn the crock pot on the morning of our dinner. It makes it easy to make sure dinner is on time and that we can spend time with our guests instead of being in the kitchen finishing up the last preparations. With this meal I can also have the kitchen relatively clean before we even eat!

With three young kids I often have a hard time getting dinner on the table in a timely fashion. You never know if they are going to need some cuddle time, book reading, attention, nursing or other such thing that a child often needs! Also, being a Type A person I have a hard time with the kitchen being a mess or in disarray when we are sitting down to eat.

Also, when we have guests I don’t want to feel stressed to clean up dinner in order to free counter space to get dessert ready, or coffee ready. I want to feel free to sit and spend time with our guests and have a simple but tasty meal that all of us will enjoy. I’m selfish! I want to enjoy time with friends and not spend it all in the kitchen!

With all that to say this is the perfect recipe for that!

Version #1 is the original recipe that I found in the February 2010 magazine of RealSimple. Version #2 is how I have altered it to make it healthier and to fit our diet restrictions. Version #2 also has a few changes just because it is what sounds better to me and is my preference!

Version #1:
Ingredients:z
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
1 to 2 TBSP chili-garlic sauce (found in the Asian aisle of the supermarket)
1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
1 tsp Chinese five-spice
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 ½, pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup long grain white rice
1 medium head bok choy, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
2 scallions, sliced

Instructions:
In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, five-spice powder (if using), ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, skim off and discard any fat from the pork. Gently fold the bok choy into the pork and cook, covered, until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the scallions.

Version #2:
Ingredients:
¼ cup Tamari
¼ cup water
¼ cup honey (sucanat, rapadura, maple syrup or other sugar substitute)
1 tsp of chopped Thai chilies in oil (can be found at Asian marts)
4-5 cloves of garlic (don’t need to be cut up because they will cook down)
1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
1 tsp Chinese five-spice
Celtic sea salt and black pepper
2 ½, pounds pork shoulder – Cut into 2 inch pieces. I do NOT remove all the fat. I ONLY remove the large amt of skin/fat on the bottom side, the rest I leave.
1 cup Quinoa
1 medium head bok choy, thinly sliced (about 8 cups – I really like the tenderness of baby bok choy)

Instructions:
In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the tamari, water, honey, chilies, garlic, ginger, five-spice powder, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook the quinoa.
Gently fold the bok choy into the pork and cook, covered, until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve over the quinoa.

Additional note:
This was originally written to be eaten over rice, but we often serve it over quinoa and it turns out great. I cook my quinoa in the rice cooker which makes it so easy! Just put 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups water and turn it on and let it do the work. It never ends up too wet or too dry or burnt! Just perfect!

I often serve with a simple salad and light dessert. In the past I have served mangos and sticky rice, but it is a lot of rice I feel like… But good none-the-less. I’ll have to share that recipe another time and also try to find a healthier version of it as well!

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