Pork is the culinary term used for the fresh meat of pig. Ham and bacon are the processed and cured forms of pork. Pork dishes are commonly eaten in various parts of the world. The term ‘pork’ is derived from the French word ‘porc’ that means pig. Various pork recipes are used to make snacks, side dishes and main dishes. Pork sausages, roasted pork and pork curry are some of the popular pork dishes that are well-liked in international cuisine.
History of Pork
Pig, the animal from which pork is made, is considered to be the oldest livestock. It has been domesticated since 5000 BC. China is the country that is believed to be the first place of pig domestication. The mass production of pork has been introduced in 20th century in Europe and North America. Before that, it has been served as a traditional autumn food. In Western cuisine, apple was served as a staple food pairing with pork.
Culinary Use of Pork
Pork is the most common type of meat used in culinary world. It is eaten in several forms. Roasted pork, cured pork including hams and bacons or smoked pork is the most popular forms of pork. Sausages are also the main food in which pork is extensively used. Terrines, salami, hot dog, pates and confit are also made with fresh pork.
Many exotic pork dishes like apricot glazed pork and pork and cranberry pot roast are well-liked in western cuisine.
Cuisines Commonly Making Pork Dishes
Worldwide production of pork is 38% of meat production. The consumption of pork varies from cuisine to cuisine. Eastern Asian and Pacific cuisines commonly make pork dishes. Whole roast pig is a popular delicacy in Pacific Island cuisine. In Chinese cuisine, pork is preferred more than beef. Due to sweet taste, clean smell and easy to digest meat; pork dishes are commonly cooked in various cuisines as the most appetizing dishes. Japanese and American cuisines are also famous for exotic and everyday pork recipes. Islam and Judaism religions consider pork as a taboo food item and the consumption of pork and pork dishes is strictly prohibited in their cuisines.
Preferred Method for Cooking Pork
Pork can be cooked by several methods. Some of the preferred methods are as follows:
• Roasted – Roasted pork is one of the most popular pork dishes all over the world.
• Smoked – Bacon is most commonly used as smoked pork.
• Cured (pickled) - Pork is cured with salt to prepare ham.
• Canned – Pork meat is canned and it is known as ‘Spam’.
All these methods are used in almost all cuisines. There is a term ‘Charcuterie’ used as a branch of cooking to make processed pork meats such as ham, bacon, sausages, confit and pates.
Nutritive Value of Pork
In culinary world, pork is considered a red meat. Though the myoglobin content of pork is much lower than beef but it is higher than chicken and turkey. Thiamin content is very high in pork. Pork dishes cooked while trimming the fat are also much higher in cholesterol and saturated fats. Pork is a red meat but US National Pork Board advertised it as ‘other white meat’ in 1987.
Pork Consumption Criteria
Consumption of pork is suitable only when it is cooked thoroughly at an internal temperature of 160 degree F. Uncooked and untreated pork dishes may contain various worms such as roundworm, pinworm and hookworm. The recent ‘Swine flu’ is also the result of worms spread by pig. In the time period of 1997-2001, almost all outbreaks in US were traced due to consumption of pork.
Food and Drug Administration Approval for Pork
University of Guelph has been developing ‘enviropig’ for more than a decade. This is a genetically designed pig that is much better for human digestion and it contains less phosphorous. Even after so many years, the University is waiting for US FDA approval. If FDA approves the ‘enviropig’, then it would be the first transgenic form of meat on food palate.
Buying and Storing of Pork
Here are some tips that may prove beneficial while buying pork:
• Pork should be lean and without fat.
• Choose the pork cut according to the time of preparation of pork dishes. For quick pork recipes, buy pork chops that cook very fast and for making pork dish with other dishes. Buy pork roast that can be kept in oven for a longer period of time without much attention.
• The tenderness of pork depends upon the cuts and from which part of pig the meat is coming from. Carefully check both these things while buying pork.
• Cost per serving should be ideal.
Storage of Pork and Pork Dishes
• Freeze the pork in refrigerator while tightly wrapping in aluminum foil or plastic sheet.
• The freezer temperature should be 0 degrees or lower than that.
• Never keep pork in freezer for more than 4 days.
• It is not advised to freeze ham as it may loose the taste and makes it unappetizing.
• Partially cooked and browned pork or pork dishes should not be refrigerated.
• Pork and sauerkraut are the two food items that are believed to bring good luck if included in New Year meal, according to food folklore.
• 19.7 billion pounds of pork has been produced by American meat packers in 2002.