Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

[Recipe] Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork

I don't publish many recipes on this blog. In fact, most of you probably think that I live in restaurants! In reality, I do love to cook and do so most evenings when I'm not travelling for work. The real reason I don't post recipes is that I don't have the time or daylight to take decent photographs of my cooking. I simply can't compete with some of the beautiful images posted by other Irish food bloggers!

I've long been addicted to Chinese food, and although I regularly seek out Chinese restaurants, I tend to go through phases of cooking it at home. However, I've lately been inspired by Julie O'Neill's Shananigans Blog, which is in turn inspired by her far-flung family and her travels. Through the medium of Twitter, we discovered our shared love for Chinese food and have swapped cookbook and cooking tips. Julie is cooking up a storm, blending Irish produce with wonderful Chinese recipes and ingredients.

Several months ago, Julie cooked Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork, based on the recipe from Fucshia Dunlop's Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. Chairman Mao came from the Hunan district and despite the culinary suppression of the Cultural Revolution, he remained a devotee of the spicy cuisine of his native province. This braised pork was his firm favourite. I've cooked this dish several times exactly as per the recipe, but in the version below I've also added just two more extra ingredients to get the dish to sing just the way I like.
My prepared ingredients - dried chilis, star anise, cinnamon, ginger & garlic

Ingredients - (Brackets indicate my optional ingredients)

500g belly pork (skin removed)
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
10g fresh ginger, skin left on and sliced
(3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced)
1 star anise
2 dried red chilis
Small piece of cassia/cinnamon bark
Light soy sauce, salt and sugar
Coriander or spring onion to garnish
(1 tablespooon cornflour mixed with a little water)
(1 tablespoon chili bean paste)


Bring a pot of water to the boil. Cut the belly pork into thick slices. At this stage, I prefer to remove the skin, as well as any rib bones. Place the belly pork into the boiling water and cook for about 4 mins, until partially cooked. Remove the pork from the water and drain on some kitchen paper. Once the pork is cool enough, cut into bite-sized chunks. 

Heat the oil and sugar in a wok over moderate heat until the sugar melts. Raise the heat and occasionally swirl the wok gently until the sugar carmelises and turns a dark golden brown. I find that it is best not to stir this mixture, as it can crystallise. Instead leave the heat to do its work.

Once carmelised, add the pork and Shaoxing wine. Stir briskly, making sure that the pork is well coated. Add just enough water to cover the pork, along with the ginger, (garlic) star anise, chills and cinnamon. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until the pork is tender. 

Towards the end, turn up the heat to reduce the sauce and season with soy sauce, salt and a little sugar to taste. Add the garnish just before serving. 

Optional - at this point, I like to add the cornflour mix in order to thicken the sauce and make it rich and glossy. For extra flavour, I also add a tablespoon of chili bean paste to taste. 
Chinese chili bean paste
The finished dish, served with flat rice noodles
This post is dedicated to Julie O'Neill, her husband and her family who have experienced several recent bereavements. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


Krankykitteh said...

Yum, looks lovely. You're being modest about your photography skills!!

dudara said...

Thank you, but I just snap a lot of my photos with my iPhone, as the light is usually too dark for DSLR efforts.

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