Staging A Twist On A Dish

I first met Ron De Guzman at Stage Restaurant in Honolulu Design Center a few weeks after it opened. I started doing a comedy show in the showroom, and I would go in early to eat at the restaurant. I was blown away by Chef Ron’s take on islandstyle poke and the way he presented his sashimi. He does an excellent job of taking food you are used to eating or grew up eating and giving it a twist. Chef Ron is a local boy of Filipino descent, so of course I asked him if he could make one of his favorites and mine — pork and squash — and it received an A-plus from me.

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Pork and Squash. Leigh Anne Meeks photo

Pork and Squash

For Crispy Pork Belly:

• 1 pound pork belly
• 6 cloves garlic
• 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
• 3 bay leaves
• 2 tablespoons salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all ingredients to a pan, cover pork belly with water three-quarters of the way. Cook until pork is fork-tender. Remove from pan, cover with parchment paper and cool in refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, cut to desired size and fry until crispy brown.

For Kabocha Puree:

• 1/2 kabocha, seeds removed
• marscapone cheese, to taste
• salt, to taste
• 1 tablespoon butter Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Cut kabocha in half, remove seeds. In a pan, add kabocha and 1 cup water. Cover with foil and bake until tender. Remove pulp and add to a Vitamix blender, add cheese, salt and butter, and blend to a smooth consistency. Reserve until ready to use.

For Balsamic Reduction:

• 2 cups balsamic vinegar
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 star anise

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and reduce to a syrup-like consistency. Cool, and reserve until ready to use. To Assemble: When ready to serve, drizzle balsamic reduction on the plate and spoon about 1 cup kabocha puree on the plate. Place a piece of pork belly on the kabocha puree and garnish with additional balsamic reduction or your favorite grilled vegetables.