Sunday, 5 May 2013

Recipe: Red-cooked Pork

This recipe was originally based on one from Cheap Chow: Chinese Cooking on Next to Nothing by Kenneth Lo, but it's diverged a little bit since then. The result is quite similar and as Kenneth Lo says: "The combination of meat, fat, skin and gravy is probably about the most savoury and appetizing thing in the whole realm of Chinese culinary creation".

Ingredients

1.5kg Belly pork slices (each about 1cm thick)
6T Sunflower oil
5t Light soy sauce
180ml Medium-dry sherry
180ml Water
1t Five-spice powder
2t Sugar
2 Star anise
(1T = one tablespoon = 15ml; 1t = one teaspoon = 5ml)

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C (= gas mark 2 = 300°F).

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, and brown the belly pork slices in batches, a few at a time. Place them in a large casserole.

Mix all the other ingredients and pour this sauce into the casserole too. Arrange the belly pork slices so that they are packed closely together. Cook in the oven for about 4 hours, turning the pieces over every hour, so that they cook evenly.

Discussion

I think everyone has a slightly different recipe for red-cooked pork. The Kenneth Lo recipe in Cheap Chow (p48) takes the meat in a single piece, rather than sliced, and cooks it for 1 hour with only a quarter of the sauce in the above recipe, then another 1 hour 30 minutes after adding another quarter of the sauce (and no five-spice powder). Fucia Dunlop in Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook (p78) uses fresh ginger, star anise, chilli and cassia bark for flavour, and simmers the dish in a wok for 50 minutes rather than in the oven. (Which leaves it a bit chewy for my taste.)

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