Slow Cooker Fusion

I adore combining the flavors of one cuisine with the delivery method -- for lack of a better description -- of another. Thai pizza makes me swoon. Spanish crepes are the stuff of legend. And tacos just beg to be stuffed with flavors of the Orient. And that last one is what led to the recipe I'm sharing with you today. With a bit of a weather outlook that looks like it can't decide if it's winder or spring, I thought it might just be time for some fusion cuisine. But rather than spend hours in the kitchen, I simply put together an Asian-inspired pulled pork dish and served it nestled in flour tortillas and garnished it with items often served alongside dumplings. The result? Happy smiles all around the dinner table.

One of the greatest things about this recipe is that it doesn't require that you get any particular cut of pork. Often made with huge roasts, pulled pork can quickly outpace its humble roots and cost quite a bit in the end. However, by leaving it up to the cook to put together a mix of cuts of pork to make this dish, costs can be kept low. I opted to use some of the pork rib ends that my market sells for under $2 a pound because they have just the right fat content to keep this mixture from drying out while it's cooking. I've also used country ribs and pork roasts with great success. Leaving the cut of meat and the choice to even mix cuts to get the right amount of pork and a good mix for slow cooking means being able to avoid spending a lot on one "perfect" cut when there are lots of options out there.

When the meat is done and served, it will seem much darker than regular pulled pork. This is because the mix of great ingredients used to flavor the meat are also going to give it a dark color. Someone just taking a look at it might even confuse it with pulled beef, but one taste will tell them otherwise. You can serve this over rice or even on buns, but I really love nestling it in flour or corn tortillas and garnishing it with sliced fresh vegetables and a generous dollop of Sriracha hot sauce (if you aren't a fan of heat, you might want to skip that part).

This makes a fantastic dish for entertaining. You can put together a quick cucumber salad on the side, serve noodles alongside, or even make dessert eggrolls to keep the theme going. It's particularly easy to put together and allows you to enjoy a little fusion cuisine that can add some color to an otherwise grey part of the year. Enjoy!

Asian Pork Tacos

  • 2 pounds pork (choose any combination of mixed cuts that aren't too lean)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 T. orange juice
  • 2 T. ketchup
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1 T. chili oil
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five spice blend
  • Flour or corn tortillas (if serving taco-style)
  • Sliced cucumbers, red chiles, green onions, and Sriracha hot sauce (for garnish and condiments)

Make sure the pork is cut into 3-6 equally-sized pieces and place it in the slow cooker. Mix together all of the other ingredients (except the garnishes), and pour evenly over the pork.

Cover, and cook on low for about 6 hours. When the pork is finished cooking, remove it from the slow cooker, separate and discard any fatty parts and bones. Shred the remaining meat with two forks.

Skim the top of the remaining liquid in the slow-cooker to remove some of the fat, then place the shredded pork back into the pot with the remaining liquid. Serve over tortillas, garnished with thinly-sliced cucumbers, red chiles, green onions, and Sriracha hot sauce, if desired.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings (3-4 tacos/serving)
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes, plus 6 hours cooking time