Kung Pao pulled pork tacos. Black & White film photos by sfksfksfk

This is what happens when I see a vegan recipe and attempt to flip it to the dark side. I couldn’t find the vinegar or the broad bean chili paste but I substituted with what I had: apple cider vinegar and Korean chili paste.

A medium sized shoulder of pork, rubbed with sugar and salt for an afternoon. I put it to sleep in a slow cooker overnight with half the amount of the “kung pao” components. The other half was sauteed and set aside. Once the pork was falling apart (oh, about 8am the next morning), I tore it into large chunks and sprinkled them with sugar. Under the broiler until the sugar bubbled dark and I pulled the pork further. I added the stir fry and reduction of leftover liquid from the slow cooker (strained, yes!). 

For the tacos, we warmed the tortillas on the flames of the stove and swiped them with a bit of green tea mustard before plopping that pork on top. More sauce. Queso fresco. A spoon of spicy vinegar. Some dill and mint. Crunchies! Can’t forget the crunchies of crushed pork rind and spicy wasabi peas. 

Juicy, messy taco. 

Vegetarian lettuce wraps. Black & white film photos by sfksfksfk

It started as my standard shiitake mushroom mix with shallot, butter and garlic. Then I thought about the vegetarian with the large appetite that would not feel full after a few. It became a dance between the fridge, the pantry and the spice rack. Sniffing and throwing and sautéing on high heat. I burned the amaranth! It’s a crunchy, squishy mix of chopped hazelnuts, water chestnut, shredded carrot, leek, ginger, miso, mint and dill. 

I was thinking that this was a taco, so it needed a salsa. How do I mess up the idea of salsa? I make a fruit pesto. Sunflower seed whirring in the food processor with fresh plum and olive oil. In some far reach of my mind, this is a crunchy taco.

Except not.

Shooting in black and white film with sfksfksfk

SFK loves stories. So much so that there is a literary food zine called Put a Egg on It. Even more that my friend is embarking on a whirlwind tour to exchange food for more stories. 

I asked, “What do you like?”

I’m pretty into food of all kinds except orange zest and hot chocolate (weird, I know). Favorite things currently include: lemons, okra, pork, corn tortillas, cooking with tea, spicy vinegars, black mustard seeds and curry leaves and surprises.”

This week we’ll explore texture and color with:

  • Whipped green tea mustard sauce
  • Lettuce wraps
  • Kung Pao Pulled Pork tacos

Let me set the scenes. You couldn’t tell that it was winter. The natural light was coming through the one window into the kitchen and I was wearing my high school track team tank top. It’s always hot in here because my landlord cranks the heat or I have the oven going. Both! I have a box fan by the dining table, propped and tilted upward because heat rises. SFK arrives with several film cameras, explaining to me and I simultaneously forget what they are.

She fusses with her NY hat because her hair is in-between lengths and she might go long (maybe). We drink a homemade spicy shrub with seltzer and it feels good going down. I try to think of things to do with the lemons, robbed of their zest by my bartender roommate. “Aha, mayo!” I exclaim while removing the plastic wrap from the herb bouquets cooling in the fridge.

I hit play on my cassette player and we begin.