Photos and Words by Rochelle Li
In the culinary world, the idea of toast has been elevated to a whole new level. Gone are the days of a lame piece of bread with sad pat of butter! Restaurants such as Mei Mei in Fenway have incorporated a “Daily Toast” option on their menu. Using a combination of what’s available in the restaurant and a touch of creativity, Mei Mei’s Daily Toast toppings vary from bacon jam to celeriac puree to even sunchoke chips.
Inspired by Mei Mei, I decided to make a version for myself. My toast was a combination of barbecue pulled pork, kimchi, cheddar cheese and homemade pickles. Here’s the basic breakdown of my toast:
A French baguette is my definite go-to for toast. Most of the time you can purchase a whole baguette from the Supermarket or a bakery for under three dollars. If you want to buy local, I definitely suggest Iggy’s or Clear Flour Bakery. They are both delicious!
The common issue with buying any French baguette is that it goes stale almost a day after you buy it (Curse retrogradation!). But alas, I have a solution: Once you’ve bought a baguette, cut slices into your desired thickness, put it in a Ziploc bag and stick that bag in a freezer. Take out a couple of slices and pop them in the oven at 350°F for about 5 minutes (or until golden brown) whenever you want to make this toast or any other type of toast!
Barbecue Pulled Pork
Barbecue pulled pork is an item you could probably buy from a restaurant or purchase frozen from a supermarket. But if you want to spend the time and effort to make it from scratch, read on (If not, skip right down to the Kimchi section)!
I made the BBQ pulled pork using a slow cooker. I bought pork butt, which isn’t actually the pig’s derrière, but rather the shoulder of the pig. It’s a nice fatty cut that requires slow and moist cooking to bring out the flavor and texture. Slow-cooking the pork allows the connective tissue, particularly the collagen, in the cut to gelatinize and soften over time. This is what gives pulled pork that great soft, melt-in-your-mouth kind of feeling when you eat it. Once you’ve bought your pork butt, add some of your favorite BBQ sauce and handful of onions and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. Once cooked, use two forks to pull apart and shred the pork.
Four to six hours may seem like a long period of time, but if you throw your ingredients in that Crock Pot before your first morning class, by dinnertime you’ll have a meal ready to go as soon as you walk into your apartment. The aroma of smoky barbecue that fills your kitchen and floats into the hallways is always a plus, too.
Kimchi is spicy, fermented cabbage that is a staple in Korean cuisine and similar to spicy sauerkraut, and it’s delicious. I put it in everything from fried rice and soup to hot dogs and even pasta. I’ll admit, I’m a tad obsessed. But the spicy, tangy and crunchy elements that kimchi adds to my version of toast really makes a difference. Kimchi can be purchased at any Asian grocery store (Super 88 or H-Mart). My favorite brand is Chongga – It’s a little more expensive than other Kimchi brands, but it’s well worth the price.
As for the cheese options, cheddar was my first pick. I used Cabot’s Sharp Cheddar Cheese, but any cheddar or cheese of preference will suffice. You can buy Cabot Cheese at most grocery stores.
I love pickles. These homemade pickles were made by combining garlic, salt, dill, black peppercorns, sugar and water and leaving them in a mason jar for a couple of days. You can find the simple recipe for my housemade pickles here! If you don’t want to make them yourself, you can always buy a jar. My absolute favorite brand of pickles is Grillo’s Classic Italian Dill. They’re crunchy, they’re garlic-y, they’re awesome.
With the basic formula of bread, toppings and sauce, the options and combinations for creative toasts are endless. All you need is a touch of creativity to bring it all to life. Good luck and happy cooking!
Tasty Toast Recipe Recap:
BBQ Pulled Pork
-1 lbs pork butt (pork shoulder)
-1 large onion
-1/4 cup of BBQ Sauce (your choice)
- Place meat in a slow cooker, add onions and barbecue sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours.
- Remove meat from the slow-cooker and place in a large bowl or plate. Shred with forks. Add more BBQ sauce if necessary.
- If not using immediately, store the pork in a container and save for later use.
- Toast baguette slices for 5-10 minutes at 350°F or until golden brown.
- Add thin bed of kimchi as the base of the toast. Sprinkle cheese (or however much you so desire). Add a generous layer of BBQ pulled pork. Garnish with pickles.