I am excited to introduce Bangalow Sweet Pork, my supplier of pork and pork bones!
Taro’sの豚骨とチャーシューにはとんでもなく旨い豚を使わせていただきます。その名もBangalow Sweet Pork。紹介させていただきます。
On Dec 29th, I visited Joe Mashett and Joe Byrne at The Sweet Pork Company. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from Brisbane down to Ballina where their office is.
In making the perfect bowl of tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen, obviously I need the perfect pork bones. I tasted many types of pork but I came across Bangalow Sweet Pork by chance, initially on the internet. I rang up Joe Byrne straight away to ask a few questions about how he raises the pigs and after hearing his no nonsense answers, I had a feeling that I might be doing business with this guy in the near future. Joe exhibits unmistakable passion about the product with taste being an absolute priority. He suggested I first try his product so I drove to a designated butcher, Village Meats in Rosalie to buy a portion of loin and belly. I tried it at home and understood straight away what Joe was trying to tell me. I had found the pork I wanted to use to create my perfect tonkotsu ramen.
An interesting side note; Founder, Joe Byrne was proclaimed a “Pork Pioneer” and the Bangalow Sweet Pork Product was recently inducted into the SMH’s (Sydney) Magazine, Food Hall Of Fame. Quite an honor.
That was 4 months ago, Since then I have kept in touch with the other Joe, Joe Mashett (sales manager) during the preparation for my restaurant opening and having some certainty with the schedule of my opening, I decided to meet these guys face to face to discuss my requirements and to hear further about how they pull off making such a great product.
My meeting planned for one hour with Joe Mashett ended up being three hours. We had a varied and in depth discussion about all things pork.
Sweet Pork’s pigs are not exotic breeds but a controlled cross breed of common Australian breeds such as Large Whites and Durocs. Their secret is looking after their pigs well and feeding them carefully on special diets. Sweet Pork’s expert nutritionist looks after the pig diets by altering their feed blend and quantity according to the individual environmental circumstances.
The resulting meat’s unsaturated fat content is no less than that of the Iberico pork and just as the Iberico pig is fed acorns for that characteristic flavor, the Sweet Pork team also calculate and nourish for flavorful meat by providing the pigs a special finisher feed for the final weeks prior to slaughter. When I asked about the characteristic unsaturated fat content and the melt in your mouth sweetness of the fat of Sweet Pork, I was surprised to hear that according to Joe, more than the unsaturated fat content, the balance of the melting temperature of the fat with the unsaturated fat content is an important point. When they push up the unsaturated fat levels, the melting temperature of the fat lowers. This is good, but if it goes too far, it changes the taste and the handling properties. Sweet Pork’s fat is melt in your mouth but relatively firm in composition as this gives a better texture, shedding excess fat when cooked but still retaining a percentage of the sweet fat which can help caramelize on the outer crust. In addition, the firmer fat is beneficial for shelf life as well as for cutting and overall handling properties.
The qualities of the fat are not the only thing the team takes into consideration. They consider everything that has to do with the taste and the eating quality of the meat. For example, mineral balances in the diets can be critical to flavour and moisture retention in the meat, etc. Meticulous science as well as passion and respect for the animals combine to create a pork that can be rated as one of the best in the world.
I was very happy with the visit. I was able to obtain a better understanding of the product and strengthen my respect for the Sweet Pork team. I placed my first order for bones and some neck for charsiu. I even received an unexpected gift, a 1kg sample of belly!
This is how the gift ended up straight after the drive home. Simple seared belly slices with some soy sauce and hot mustard.
その翌日の晩御飯です。こちらの生卵で食べる豚しゃぶは鹿児島で食べて美味しかった食べ方です。Sweet Pork、本場の黒豚に引けをとらない旨さです！この豚しゃぶとトンカツをDinner Timeに出そうと考えています。