Recipe: Dasheen Pork

Dasheen pork melds local ingredients with old-world Chinese cooking style. It is an iconic Trinidad Chinese dish. Dasheen is the local word for taro. The recipe is adapted from my book Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago (Hippocrene 2010).

Dasheen Pork i i
Jean Paul Vellotti for NPR
Dasheen Pork
Jean Paul Vellotti for NPR

4 to 6 servings

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic, slightly crushed, plus 2 cloves garlic, minced

5 whole cloves, slightly crushed

4 medium taro roots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices (available in Asian, Caribbean or Latino markets)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons dark rum

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 (1-inch) piece red bean curd (a flavored, fermented tofu, available in Asian markets), chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons green seasoning (recipe below)

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

Place the pork shoulder in a pot with the bay leaf, crushed garlic and crushed cloves. Add just enough water to cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the pork is tender.

While the pork is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the taro. Simmer for 10 minutes, drain and set aside to cool.

When the pork is tender, remove it from the pot, cool and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place in a bowl and add the soy sauce and rum. Mix well to coat all sides of the pork.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the pork (reserve soy-rum mixture), browning on all sides. Remove and allow to cool. Place the pork in a bowl and add the minced garlic, ginger, bean curd, onion, green seasoning and five-spice powder. Mix well to coat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large baking dish, arrange the taro and pork slices in alternating layers, and pour any reserved soy-rum mixture on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the taro is fork tender and slightly translucent.


Green Seasoning

Green seasoning is unique to the Caribbean and differs slightly from island to island. It is used in a huge number of Trinidadian dishes, whether African, Chinese or Indian. In Trinidad, it's distinguished by the use of shado beni or Mexican culantro (recao), a local herb very much like cilantro. Fresh shado beni can be found in West Indian and Spanish markets. If not, fresh cilantro is a good substitute. The recipe is adapted from my book Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago (Hippocrene 2010).

Makes 1 cup

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh shado beni or cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

4 cloves garlic, minced

Process all of the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture forms a thick paste. Alternatively, process in a blender with 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

Use immediately, or refrigerate in a tightly sealed glass jar for up to 1 week.

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