Comfort food, Asian style

Five Spice Pork Wraps

We have snow on the ground with more expected. The first winter we lived in Ketchikan we had frequent snows. The accumulation wasn’t significant most of the time, but snowfall was a regular occurrence. Last winter we experienced more rain than anything else. This season has been mild until the past few weeks. But now, with March on the calendar and daffodils breaking through the soil, spring is delayed. The forecast for the weekend is more of the same: wind and snow…it will be good to be indoors.

I would typically be thinking of making hearty comfort food to combat the weather. A product of a Southern upbringing, I love barbecue. It is not just for summer cookouts or tailgating, it’s a favorite year round. The traditional tangy/sweet sauce dressing a pulled pork sandwich is a little bit of heaven on a bun for me. But thanks to a recipe from Williams-Sonoma that I tried recently, I have a new twist on barbecue. Pork tenderloin, infused with Asian flavors from ginger, garlic, and hoisin sauce, is the updated version of the classic taste. I’ve made this twice in the past few weeks, and I absolutely need to experience it again. It’s so easy and versatile. The recipe suggests using the pork in a lettuce wrap, but you could also serve this as an entrée with a stir fry of mixed vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, red peppers, snow peas, water chestnuts, onions…whatever you like); or shred the meat for sandwiches.

Asian Barbecue Pork

(with thanks to Williams-Sonoma for the inspiration; the recipe is in their current catalog and on their website as “Five-Spice Pork Wraps.” I have adjusted it a bit to suit my taste)


  1. 1 package pork tenderloin (usually two tenderloin pieces are packaged together; be sure to purchase meat that is not pre-seasoned)
  2. 1 or 2 yellow onions, cut in thin wedges
  3. 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic, or 2 tsp crushed garlic
  4. 3 or 4 pieces of pickled jarred ginger
  5. 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  6. 1/2 cup Litehouse Sesame Ginger Dressing
  7. 1/3 cup soy sauce
  8. 2-3 Tbsp canola oil
  9. 2 Tbsp chili sauce or hot sauce, if desired
  10. Salt, black pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle surface of pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Using oven proof cookware, heat oil on medium high setting. Brown pork, onion and garlic until meat is seared on all sides.
  3. Remove pan from heat; add ginger, hoisin sauce, Litehouse dressing, and hot sauce, combining all ingredients to coat pork.
  4. Bake, covered, about 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and shreds with a fork.

When the meat is tender, shred and pair with stir fried vegetables; serve in a lettuce wrap; or serve on a warmed bun. Garnish with fresh cilantro,  green onions, additional hoisin sauce, Litehouse Sesame Ginger Dressing, or hot sauce if desired.

You can also prepare this dish in a slow cooker rather than the oven if you prefer that method. Follow the same prep steps, but transfer the meat and sauce to a slow cooker after meat is browned. Cook on a low setting, checking tenderness of meat after 4 hours. If meat does not easily shred, continue cooking until meat shreds with a fork.

Here’s another tip for free: I like to make spring rolls. You can find a wide variety of recipes online. But whether you make your own, or buy frozen spring rolls or egg rolls, these are a tasty addition to any Asian-inspired meal, or a delicious little snack or appetizer. I have found a quick and easy dipping sauce that is a perfect partner. Mix to taste, and with proportions based on the number of people you will be serving…no measurements here! For each serving, combine a spoonful or two of apricot jam or orange marmalade with Litehouse Sesame Ginger Dressing and mix well. You can heat the mixture if you prefer the sauce to be warm, or serve cold. This is so simple…why didn’t I think of this before?!

My affair with Williams-Sonoma

Christmas Panettone

It began as a long distance romance…I can’t recall when I first encountered a Williams-Sonoma catalog, but it was at least in the early 90s…long before I ever went into a  Williams-Sonoma store or before there was a website.

In the early days of my infatuation, the catalogs were smaller and not as elaborate as the current style. As I recall, they were about half the size of the magazine format that the catalog sports now. But even then, each edition was a passport to wonderful culinary products. Understand, I didn’t experience the pleasure of shopping in unique kitchen stores until I was a young adult. There simply was no such establishment in the region where I grew up.

Granted, no matter where one grew up, retail shopping has come a long way. The internet has added opportunities for buying that were unimaginable only a few years ago. When I lived in the Alaskan Arctic, I regularly ordered items from Williams-Sonoma, and they arrived like clockwork, even at the top of the world. Most of my actual purchasing is done online, unless I’m lucky enough to be in the vicinity of a retail store…something that doesn’t happen often enough these days. I got spoiled to the ease of going to their retail locations when we lived in the foothills above Denver. There were multiple Williams-Sonoma stores in the city, and it was always fun to visit at the beginning of a new season to check out the most recent cookware, gadgets, and receipes being showcased.

But I have to say, even though there are benefits to visiting the stores in person, I get more actual enjoyment from a leisurely reading through the catalog. (Maybe this is where some would think I need a life?) But honestly, if you love to cook, how could you resist these pages with the most beautiful cookware, dishes and linens? And for gadget lovers, there are always new and unique items to catch your eye and fancy. What will they think of next? The photography is delicious, there are recipes scattered throughout the pages, lovely staging options for tablescapes (for all my elaborate entertaining) and in some editions, pages and pages of the most delectable foods to order, either for gift giving or for your own use.

I have never had a bad experience with this company. The food items I’ve ordered have been received with rave reviews. I can personally attest to the yumminess of the Panettone,  but most of the food I have ordered has been given as gifts. Their customer service is great and the quality of products as well as food is amazing.

However, back to browsing…if you don’t receive this catalog, go to their website or give them a ring and request it. It’s a wonderful way to find some inspiration for your next family food event or to challenge yourself to try some new culinary adventure. I highly recommend curling up with the latest catalog in the evening, cup of comforting hot tea at your side, and drooling a bit over the pages that make kitchen work seem exciting, even glamorous. Before you know it you’ll be making your wish list and dreaming of new culinary achievements, spurred on by the inspiratrion of beautiful images, lovely products, and enticing recipes.

I’m happy to say that I’ve passed my passion for all things culinary on to my daughter. She had a better outfitted kitchen right out of college than I did until I was thirty. And most importantly, she cooks. (So does my son, but his techniques are a little less traditional, more minimalist. No Williams-Sonoma wish lists for him!)

By the way, you can access a plethora of Williams-Sonoma reciepes on their website and save them to your digital receipe box. The ones I’ve tried have been keepers.

You can link to their site on my blog home page, or here: