Connecting Ireland and food will bring smiles to most anyone in the world, especially when it’s their sustainable and high quality pork and beef
The Bord Bia of Ireland is the state agency tasked with promoting Irish food, drinks, and horticulture to customers all over the world. And this it achieves on the three pillars of sustainability, traceability (from farm to fork), and high quality. Exporting to the Philippines, it’s branded European Pork & Beef, and they put together a wonderful masterclass that was hosted by Issa Litton, that featured Irishman chef Mark Hagan of the Grand Hyatt BGC.
As Bord Bia market specialist Jack Hogan, based in Shanghai, was proud to say, European Pork & Beef production is underpinned by the strict European Union (EU) food safety legislation, recognized as the most stringent worldwide. It’s all about safe, nutritious food with high standards of animal health and welfare and clear information on the origin and labeling of food. Its slogan is “Love the Taste, Trust the Quality.” Ireland is the largest net beef exporter in the EU.
It helps that Ireland is an island state with 80 percent of its land devoted to agriculture, with family farms passed on for generations, at the heart of its pork and grass-fed beef production. In Asia, China and Japan are the discerning key drivers of export growth, and it’s hoped that the Philippines will soon follow. Asia presently accounts for over 30 percent of Irish pork exports.
For the masterclass, chef Mark first used the Irish beef striploin. He ingeniously added Asian flavors to the exercise, inspired by Korean BBQ marinade. Mirin, chili, a lettuce wrap, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds made the sliced beef strips come alive with sweet and spicy influences. The chili glaze was a great touch, and the simplicity of the Irish beef striploin preparation should make this a ready favorite in many households.
But the “star” of the afternoon was the confit Irish pork belly dish. Chef Mark prepared the pork sous vide style, with the pork first curing for six hours in the refrigerator. There was a white onion purée that resembled mashed potatoes, braised shallots, and all topped with a honey-mustard sauce made from scratch. If you have the opportunity to get the recipe from the European Pork & Beef website or Facebook page, and watch the masterclass replay with the very straightforward prepping of chef Mark, this is the one to cook at home. You will be loved for coming up with this dish.
It’s hoped that a full series will come out of this great introduction to European Pork & Beef. Issa Litton was enjoyable to watch as both chef Mark and Jack were handling the Q&A portion, and she was wiping out the Irish pork belly. Coming up for air, she raved about the dish, and her description had me wishing we could all partake.
Fun, illuminating, and highly informative, this was European Pork & Beef staking a claim on our tummies. I can say that I’m all excited to have my cook prepare her versions of the Irish beef striploin, and the confit Irish pork belly. Later this year, European Pork and Beef hopes to revive its East Meets West culinary competition for local chefs, something to look out for.