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Friend is trying pig for the first time...

and I'm in charge of preparing his introduction to it. If you were trying it for the first time, what would you want? Iberico? Pulled pork? Pork belly? I want to provide as much breadth as possible and I'm more willing to opt for ideas that require minimal preparation.

If you're up for an even greater challenge: the other part of the deal was that I need to pair it with sake. Any ideas there?

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  1. Ramen soup with a few slices of the best Chinese roast pork you can find in your area--should work okay with sake, and it is an easy to love preparation for pork.

    1. Bacon, pork chops, ham -- I stopped eating meat at age 13, back in the Dark Ages, & I still find them tempting. Especially bacon. Please, scientists, grow me some pork in a test tube ... .

      There's also the forbidden fruit aspect, if your friend has not tried pig before b/c it was taboo for religious or cultural regions. A Muslim friend who grew up in Pakistan said that a Christian classmate in high school (this was some decades ago, when the minority communities were larger) went hunting & shot a wild boar; his mother cooked it & quite a number of classmates, mostly Muslim, including my friend, snuck over to see what it was all about. He said it was the most delicious thing he ever ate in his life, mostly b/c he felt so wicked doing it. When he came to the US & pork was available everywhere, he never bothered to eat it again.

      Now I wonder what would have happened if he'd had alcohol too!

      Seriously, though, bacon, or better yet Canadian bacon, since the fattiness of pork turns some people off (hey, I may not eat it but I still cook it & I know what is never left over). Then 'cue. Then ham. Then plainer porky things (very garlicky roast pork, maybe?).

      As for the sake, does he drink alcohol at all, & if so, does he prefer sweeter or drier wines/cocktails?

      1 Reply
      1. re: mshenna

        He's a muslim that grew up not eating pork, stopped practicing his religion, and just hasn't done it because that's the way things happened to have worked out.
        As for the alcohol question, if I had to guess, I'd say err on the side of dryness.

      2. Just bacon.

        If the tastes follows that, go for more expansive stuff. But for such a huge first timer...if bacon ain;t gonna do it no pork will.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Quine

          Isn't that the truth! Get some really good bacon and have a mimosa on standby.

          1. re: Vetter

            I guess I have to say it but why go "whole hog" when you are not sure the person will tolerate the finest best pork there is: bacon?

            1. re: Quine

              Give him a good "ribbing", but spare it.

              1. re: Passadumkeg

                Yeah, but they ain;t gonna pass the bacon test....save the ribs for folks who know that you don;t use a knife and fork...but finger licking!

                1. re: Quine

                  A good hunk of fresh pork kolbasa w/ fresh horseradish; the sashimi of the Slavic world.

        2. If you're looking for good pork recipes to feed a first timer, I say go with a plate of pork jagerschnitzel wcabbage and spaetzle.

          Or if you're sticking with the saki, go with some Pork Tonkatsu.

          1. Does he enjoy spicy food? Spicy pork or pork belly cooked korean style. There will not be any dryness issues and excellent with sake. Should be an easy delicious introduction but don't make it too spicy and mask all the porkiness.

            1. A lot of good thoughts here. Most of his reservations about pork are going to be emotional and/or intelectual, not flavor issues. The question then becomes do you want to really celebrate pork, or just let it be a quiet background for other flavors. When it comes to beef, what does he really like? Burgers with lots of toppings? A steak or a roast? Or is he happier with stew, where beef is just part of the greater whole?

              Is pork something he has secretly harbored a longing for? Something he smelled once upon a time but felt guilty for wanting? Or is he just generally curious? Any lingering squeamishness? Feelings like "this stuff is really not good, but I really should try it anyhow."

              If you want to just subtly bring in pork but in one of its best forms (bacon), then a really good BLT or Clubhouse sandwich could be a good choice.

              Maybe you go out or make a nice brunch where he can choose from bacon, sausage, or ham - or even a little bit of each, unless you think him having to choose rather than eating what is put in front of him is going to be an issue.

              If you want to make the pork the star, then a nice tender roast pork, or some thick cut bone-in pork chops may be the way to go.

              For something less imposing, there are few things as good as a great ham and cheese sandwich. And the cured aspects of ham take it further away from in-your-face pork. Does he like salty foods? Pastrami (translates to beef-ham)? Maybe a manhattan club sandwich instead of clubhouse (ham in place of bacon)

              If you want to present it as 'just another meat', then something like pulled pork sandwiches or oso bucco would seem to be the way to go where the preparation is the star, and pork just happens to be the vehicle.

              Finally if you really want to go low key, make some spaghetti and meatballs, where the meatballs are mixed meat (pork and beef.)

              Whatever way you go, Good luck!

              1. I suggest a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bada Bing

                  I agree on the BLT with both Bada Bing and KaimukiMan.

                2. Just slices of prosciutto.

                  1. I'd do something piggy in the style of whatever friend likes other meats. Inherently that will be the least challenging introduction particularly as there have been past cultural limitations

                    1. I am not a fan of pork, apart from prosciutto and certain sausages but I do like pulled pork. I would start there!

                      1. Pork is delicious in so many ways that it's impossible to say which is the best introduction. Choices range from a simple roast loin to the more complex adobo, carnitas, chile verde, deep fried belly, etc. Each one would be a superb beginning for him.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mucho gordo

                          Not sure I can support that MG. I would stay away from anything too fatty (deep fried belly, kau-yuk, etc.) A lot of people, myself included, just can't deal with the idea of eating that much visible fat... from any animal, and I'm pretty open minded when it comes to food. If it is going to be a fatty dish, make sure the fat has all melted into the rest of the meat or sauce. Otherwise he is going to spend all his time cutting it away and pushing it to the side of his plate. Not a good introduction to pork. Oddly enough the fat in bacon is an exception... go figure.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            Everything in moderation, KM. I'm not for "pigging out" on fat but some is good and, unfortunately, that's where most of the flavor is.

                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              I would agree. Aethetics aside, I think pork belly is just too rich for a lot of people, and especially someone who has never eaten pork before.

                              Bacon is okay because most of the fat is rendered and/or has become crisp.

                              Personally, I'd start with some good quality "regular" ham. Not something heavily cured like prosciutto or iberico, which are rich and salty for a beginner.

                          2. A spicy Asian pork dish with Rihaku Nigori Sake Dreamy Clouds should fit the bill quite nicely.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: David11238

                              Any kind of pork with any of the Rihaku sakes would be great. Rihaku has a distinct flavor that can be found in all of their products, from top to bottom.

                              1. re: Tripeler

                                For me, I appreciate the sweetness of the nigori. It makes a nice counter-balance for the spiciness of the pork dish. Or sashimi.

                                1. re: David11238

                                  Sounds great to me, I am all for it. Thanks for mentioning Rihaku -- one of my favorite sakes.

                            2. awesomealdehyde:

                              OK, so I've been watching this thread now for days, and am trying for a way to express my incredulity that someone old enough to imbibe of sake has never tried pork without sounding intolerant. But I know there are folks who have changes in life that allow them to try pork for the first time at whatever age, so here goes.

                              I suggest a slow-cooked, pulled pork barbecued sandwich, on a soft roll, with sauce or maybe even served Carolina-style with slaw. Tender, low on meat texture, with a mix of flavor, but still with the essence... You're on your own with pairing with sake.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                I would take that sandwich with a rich amber ale with minimal hopping, for starters.

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Kaleo... If the person was raised muslim and was taught from infancy that pork is unclean, why would it be difficult to believe that he kept that attitude? Not disagreeing, just trying to understand your thoughts.

                                  My father will not eat salt water fish. Claims to hate it. Every time we went somewhere and someone near us was eating fish, he would make a face and a comment. I grew up knowing that fish tasted bad. Didn't have to try it. I smelled it, had been taught that was a bad smell, and it did smell bad to me, how could it not? It wasn't till long after I was out of college and was in a relationship with someone who loved fish that I even tried it. Found out it wasn't terrible - if cooked properly. Then discovered that sometimes it can even taste good. Finally came to the conclusion that I like fish.

                                  Of course the kicker is, being a child of the late fifties/early sixties, I grew up eating tuna casserole three or four times a month. Ha. But that wasn't fish, that was tuna. Go figure.

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    E Kaimukiman, Aloha:

                                    "[W]hy would it be difficult to believe that he kept that attitude?"

                                    It's not. It's the change of habit and the lack of prior exposure that surprises me more. If the OP's friend hasn't (hadn't?) tried any pork because of religious dietary restrictions, those restrictions aren't going away. No judgment; s/he would just be stepping away from them. Perhaps the sake is to be/was Exhibit B.

                                    But we do not know what the reason or change is. It may be a case of a strict vegetarian from birth who now has health or other reasons to start enjoying pua'a. Or maybe just raised by folks who disliked pig as much as your makua kāne did i'a o ke kai!

                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                    You apparently haven't been watching it very carefully, because back on the 10th there was this explanation: "He's a muslim that grew up not eating pork, stopped practicing his religion, and just hasn't done it because that's the way things happened to have worked out."

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      Hi, Ruth:

                                      My bad. And now I don't need to ask. Thanks.

                                  3. you could always go all all american with a pork tenderloin sandwich..

                                    1. My vote would be for bacon, or carnitas.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: gmm

                                        I made bourbon and bacon ice cream a few weeks ago. I was delicious. I used Broadbent's smoked and lightly dusted with cinnamon bacon. The bourbon was Buffalo Trace. Next time I'll add a bit more bourbon and burn off some of the alcohol for better freezing and a more pronounced bourbon flavor. It would a really good way to introduce pig and booze at the same time. I also used Bourbon Barrel Foods vanilla that is cured in older bourbon barrels. The light dusting of cinnamon made a very subtle contribution to the flavor too.

                                        1. re: gmm

                                          I second Carnitas - a really good carnitas taco.

                                        2. Start him easy with a thin slice of roasted loin and a simple sauce.
                                          As tasty as pork fat is, its not where you want to start if you have never had pork IMHO.
                                          Perhaps a sandwich with prosciutto, balsamic, fresh mozz and some nice arugula.
                                          BLT is also a great idea.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: AdamD

                                            I would suggest tenderloin. Regular loin these days is pretty dry and boring, but a tenderloin (if not overcooked) is tender - duh! - and flavorful without being aggressively porky. Well-seasoned and roasted in a fairly hot oven (or grilled) to 145º internal and allowed to sit for a while. Just slice it, maybe do some sour cream with horseradish, or maybe better yet a Middle-eastern-style garlic sauce, some good bread and a salad.

                                          2. I'd stick with a simple preparation of good quality fried pork shops done so they are just a bit pale pink. If you were in Berkeley, I'd suggest buying them at Cafe Rouge.

                                            1. Hi, awsomealdehyde:

                                              It's been a week... What did you decide? How'd it go?