Su Dongpo is a well-known 11th century poet from the town of Meishan in Sichuan. Born to a family of literati, Dongpo was well-educated and served in the government in various Chinese cities. In addition to being a poet and politician, Dongpo was a painter and culinarian. While stationed in the southern city of Hangzhou, Dongpo created this slow-braised pork dish. The dish was well received and has since become one of the cities most famous dishes.

  • Pork hock (upper portion of the leg) (1 kg)su dongpo
  • Rock sugar (30 g)*
  • Granulated sugar (30 g)*
  • Ginger (10 g)
  • Large scallions (40 g)
  • Sichuan peppercorn (3 g)*
  • Cooking wine (50 g)
  • Soy sauce (10 g)
  • Star anise (2 pieces)
  • Chinese cinnamon (1 g)
  • Bay leaf (1 piece)
  • Gourmet powder (1 g)*
  • Wet starch (30 g)*
  • Chicken bones
  • Stock (2 kg)
  • Oil

* Amounts are approximate.

Preparation:

  1. Place the pork hock in cold water. Heat slowly until boiling. While boiling, eliminate scum. Cook on very low heat for about 1 hour.
  2. Caramelize rock sugar: Season wok and add a small amount of oil. Add rock sugar. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly. When caramel is dark brown and full of small bubbles, add a little water. Remove from heat.
  3. Put chicken bones, ginger, stock, caramel, scallions, salt, granulated sugar, cooking wine, star anise, cinnamon, bay leaf and pork hock in a large stock pot. Stew over low flame for 2-3 hours. When pork hock can easily be poked with a chopstick, remove. Drain and reserve cooking stock.
  4. Remove bone from pork hock. Gently cut meat, but not skin or fat, into chunks. (This is so that pieces can easily be removed with chopsticks.) Roll pork hock so that it appears as it did before the bone was removed. Place in a medium sized bowl, with the cut facing up.IMG_0327

Cooking:

  1. Heat cooking stock from pork hock. Add soy sauce, salt, cooking wine and gourmet powder. Taste and adjust as needed (should be sweet and salty).
  2. Pour sauce over pork in bowl.
  3. Place bowl in a steamer. Steam for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  4. Drain sauce from pork into wok. Heat gently. Reduce the sauce and add wet starch. Stir gently and simmer until sauce is the consistency of honey.
  5. Place a plate over the top of the bowl with the pork. Carefully flip the pork onto the plate.
  6. Spoon the sauce over the pork.
  7. As this dish is very rich, it is typically served with steamed vegetables such as broccoli and carrots.

Dish checklist:

  • Is the flavor slightly sweet, slightly salty?
  • Is the sauce thick and shiny?IMG_0344
  • Are the skin and meat flexible and tender?
  • Is the flavor rich, but not fatty?

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