North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ


I have lived in North Carolina for all of my 29 years, until just over a month ago when I moved to Arizona for graduate school. I knew before I left that NC bbq would be the one food I missed the most. After moving here, I realized that the term “bbq” applied to all things cooked on a grill, while in NC it is synonymous with pulled pork dredged in an hot and vinegary sauce. I have been working on this crockpot version for several years now, and while it does not compare to a smoked pig, it comes just close enough to satisfy my bbq cravings.

I decided to introduce this deliciousness at a recent potluck with my new friends in Arizona who had never tasted NC bbq. I ordered my favorite sauce from North Carolina, however, it did not arrive in time due to poor customer service. This forced me to make my own bbq sauce, which I’ve also included the recipe for here. It turned out pretty close to what I prefer, but you may alter it depending on how sweet or hot you like your sauce. Pulled pork is often eaten as a sandwich, on a hamburger bun with coleslaw and a side of hushpuppies.


           for the pork

– 3-4lb pork shoulder roast (also called Boston Butt)
-2tbsp brown sugar
-2tbsp chili powder
-2tbsp paprika
-2tbsp garlic powder
-1tbsp salt
-1tbsp pepper
-1tbsp Liquid Smoke

for the sauce

-1 cup apple cider vinegar
-1 cup white vinegar
-2 tbsp brown sugar
-1 tbsp red pepper flakes
-1/4 cup hot sauce (Texas Pete or Frank’s Red Hot)
-1tbsp salt
-1tbsp pepper



  1. Mix together all dry ingredients for pork. Rub this all over the pork shoulder.
  2. Place into crockpot with the skin-side up. Drizzle liquid smoke over roast, cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  3. In a small saucepan, mix together all sauce ingredients and simmer on medium-high until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and let it set for as long as possible. It is best to make it the day before, but if you can’t, make it when you put the roast on so it has a good 8+ hours to mingle the flavors.
  4. When the pork is done, pour out all of the liquid. Using two forks, shred the pork apart. You shouldn’t have to use much effort and it should fall apart easily. If your roast has a shoulder bone, be sure to remove that.
  5. With the shredded pork in the crockpot, add some of your sauce and mix well. Let this absorb the flavors for at least 30 minutes. You can use your crockpot’s “keep warm” setting. Serve the pork with extra sauce to drizzle on top.


*Note, this is not one of those recipes where you can half the time by cooking it on high. You cannot get fall-off-the-bone pork this way.

**Another side note–some crockpot aficionados are probably asking Where is the liquid? since this roast uses none. The pork will make it’s own liquid, as you can see in the photo above. Do not add any extra broth or water, or you will end up with soggy pork.


Caramelized Pork Bánh mì


In my humble opinion, the pork bánh mì is the best sandwich EVER. Yes, ever. I know you’re already drooling over this photo, but let me explain! This sandwich is packed with layers of flavor that will seriously make you look at your sandwich after you take the first bite. As if staring at it would help you understand it’s deliciousness. The name bánh mì refers to the bread used, which was influenced  by the French baguette. Influenced is probably too nice a word, considering I actually mean that France colonized Vietnam and was like here, bread. Nonetheless, a good airy French baguette is where all the goodies should rest!

My bánh mì sandwich is comprised of marinated pork which is caramelized, and placed (in all it’s sticky goodness) onto the mayo’d French baguette. It is then topped with cucumber, red onion, jalapeño pepper, cilantro and pickled carrots. Explosion of flavor in your mouth…that is all you need to know. It’s so good that we let it stand alone–serving it completely by itself. However, I have served it with grilled pineapple when I make it for guests.















for the sandwich–

-French baguette
-rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
-jalapeño pepper
-red onion

for the pork–

– 3/4 – 1 lb country-style pork rib meat or pork shoulder roast, sliced into thin, 2in pieces
– 1/4 cup ketchup
– 1/4 cup soy sauce
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 2 tbsp fish sauce
– 2 tbsp sesame oil
– juice of 1 lime


  1. Mix together marinade ingredients; add pork and marinate for at least 1-2 hours.
  2. Slice cucumber, jalapeño pepper, and red onion to your liking. Pick off leaves of cilantro.
  3. Shave carrot into a shallow bowl; cover with rice vinegar and set aside.
  4. Remove pork from fridge and set a large, shallow pan on medium-high heat. Once heated, add each piece of pork to the pan with tongs, shaking off excess marinade. You don’t want too much liquid in the pan, because the pork won’t be able to caramelize.
  5. Let the pork cook on one side for at least 4-5 minutes; turn each piece with tongs and cook for 4-5 minutes more.
  6. The timing from here is up to your stovetop. Continue to stir pork around with your tongs. Watch as the sauce thickens and the pork starts to look sticky. Once it has thickened, turn off the stovetop and let the pork rest.
  7. Cut your piece of baguette in half. Scoop out the bread in the top half. Spread mayo on the bottom half.
  8. Place the pork on top of the bottom half, and layer with cucumber, jalapeño pepper, red onion, cilantro, and pickled carrot. Place top on and try not to die as you take the first bite.

Linguine with Salami & Zucchini


My variation of this rich pasta dish comes from a Frugal Gourmet recipe that my father made for us growing up. The original recipe called for capers, which my father never used, thus they never made it into my version. Salami, zucchini and a creamy sauce may sound like a strange combination, but I promise you’ll love it! Because it’s so simple to make, this was one of the first dishes I learned to make for myself when I was living on my own. If you don’t know how to make your own cream sauce–this recipe shows you. It’s so simple you’ll want to hit yourself for not attempting it earlier! I carried this knowledge over to making other cream sauce pasta dishes, but I wouldn’t advise too many since it’s so fattening. I try not to have this dish more than once a month–it really is a treat! Feel free to try it with other pasta noodles–I also like it with penne, farfalle, and campanelle.


-8oz linguine (or other pasta)
-4 to 6oz hard salami, cut into small pieces
-1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2in chunks
-6 to 8 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 tsp fresh ground pepper
-1 pint heavy whipping cream
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


  1. Boil water for pasta. Heat saucepan to medium and add salami. Sautè until lightly crisp. Add zucchini and sautè for 3 minutes. Add garlic and sautè for another minute or two.
  2. Pour the pint of heavy whipping cream over the salami/zucchini mixture. Bring to a low bubble and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the cream is simmering, cook pasta al dentè.
  4. After 10-12 minutes of simmering the cream mixture, stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper and let simmer for another minute.
  5. Serve over pasta with additional Parmesan if desired.

ผัดกะเพรา (Pad Kaprao) aka Stir-Fried Holy Basil


Disclaimer: there seems to be a lot of talk on blogs about the authentic or traditional way of making a recipe when that recipe is outside of your cultural or ethnic “home”. This recipe has been constructed based on my own experiences in Thailand and nothing more. Despite the fact that the dish is named after Thai holy basil (bai kaprao), it can also be made with Thai sweet basil (bai horapa) which I experienced myself in Thailand, as it is very difficult to find Thai holy basil. Either way, this dish is full of amazing flavors and easy for first-timers to make!

So, which type of Thai basil do you have?

basil                Thai Holy basil (bai kaprao)                                                         Thai sweet basil (bai horapa)

Now…moving on to the recipe! This was the very first dish we ate in Thailand. We had just traveled for 33 hours with very little sleep. After 3 flight changes, a 3 hour bus ride, and a short taxi ride, we arrived at our hotel ready to just sleep. So, we settled for eating at our hotel, which was really outside of my idea of a culturally immersive trip. However, sleep deprivation and hunger will certainly cause you to adjust your plans 😉 Luckily, our hotel had a fantastic chef who cooked authentic Thai cuisine (minus the peanut satay pizza lol.) They served the meals family-style, and we ordered three small dishes to share. I only remember two of them: the Thai larb salad, which inspired my own recipe, and the Pad Kaprao.


-1lb ground meat (I prefer pork or chicken)
-7-9 cloves of garlic, chopped
-7-9 Thai chilies, sliced at an angle
-1 large shallot or 1/4 red onion, fine chopped
-1 cup (about 20-30 whole leaves) of Thai basil
-3 tbsp soy sauce
-2 tbsp oyster sauce
-2 tbsp fish sauce
-3 tbsp peanut oil
-jasmine rice
-1 egg for each person


  1. Cook rice according to directions and set aside.
  2. Add 3 tbsp of peanut oil to wok or skillet (less if using fatty meat like pork or beef) and heat to medium. Add garlic, chilies and shallot; stir fry for 2 minutes. Add ground meat; crumble and stir fry until no longer pink.
  3. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce & fish sauce; stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add basil and stir fry for another minute, until leaves are barely wilted. Keep warm while you fry or poach an egg for each person. The most important thing about cooking the egg is that its yoke should remain runny.
  4. Serve the pad kaprao by placing a mound of rice on a plate. Top the rice with the egg. Spoon the pad kaprao beside the rice and egg.

Thai “Larb” Salad


Yay! My first post in Foodblog Land! I have decided to commemorate this introductory post with the sharing of one of my favorite recipes: Larb.

Larb might not be the most beautifully named dish I’ve ever eaten, but it is by far my favorite salad. Everyone I’ve made it for has fallen in love with it, including veggie-hating individuals which will remain unnamed.

This salad epitomizes the Thai ideals of balancing sweet, hot, sour & bitter in their dishes. From the seasoned pork to salad laced with mint leaves and the sweet lime-sesame dressing, this salad is an explosion of flavor. Traditionally, larb is not served on top of a salad and dressed this way, but I have taken liberties and constructed a salad that even picky eaters will request again! 🙂

For the seasoned meat
-1lb ground pork (or turkey)
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-2 inch knob ginger, minced
-3-4 Thai chilies, chopped
-1/2 lime, juiced
-2 tbsp sesame oil
-2 tbsp fish sauce
-2 tbsp brown sugar
For the salad
-salad greens
-red bell pepper
-red onion or shallot
For the dressing
-2 tbsp brown sugar
-1 1/2 limes, juiced
-1 tbsp Sriracha
-1 tbsp fish sauce
-1 tbsp sesame oil
  1. Brown ground pork on medium heat with sesame oil. Once browned, add garlic, chilies & ginger. Stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add brown sugar and stir until it starts to stick. Add fish sauce & lime juice, continuing to cook on medium-low for 3-4 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Mix ingredients for dressing and set aside.
  4. Assemble salad; pour dressing over salad, reserving a few spoonfuls. Top with seasoned pork. Add remaining dressing over pork & serve. Try not to freak out when you realize how good this salad is.