“When my maternal grandmother visited us, my mother would make a big pot of hongshao rou, red-cooked meat,” recalls Mrs.
“In a sense, this is a Shanghai-style dish because it contains no hot peppers or hot pepper paste, as do most Szechwanese hongshao. And it uses sugar, which is typical of the region around Shanghai.”
Pork is so rarely stewed in America that you will probably have to get the meat for this dish specially cut. Fresh shoulder, ham, or butt are good. You can also substitute beef, though it doesn’t have the rich flavor of pork. If you add the optional carrots and potatoes to the meat, you will end up with something that looks just like a regular stew. You could serve it that way, with rice of course. This is a useful dish for entertaining, especially if you don’t have the time for a more elaborate Chinese meal. The recipe can be doubled and the whole dish can be prepared way in advance. It actually improves on standing.
Chop the meat into 2-inch cubes. If the meat has bones, leave them in; they add richness to the dish.
Peel the carrots and slice them diagonally into chunks, roughly the same size as the pieces of meat. Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks as well.
Clean the scallions and tie them together in a bunch.
Smash the ginger with the flat side of the cleaver; you don’t have to peel it. Do the same thing to the garlic cloves, but peel them after they have been smashed.
(carrots and potatoes)
Heat your wok or pan over a moderate flame for 10 seconds, then add the oil. Let the oil get warm, but nowhere near as hot as it usually gets when you cook Chinese food.
Add the sugar and stir it very carefully for 20 seconds with your cooking shovel or spoon to make sure it doesn’t burn. It will turn dark brown.
(ginger, pork cubes)
Turn up the flame and add the ginger and the pork cubes. Stir-fry them for 1 minute, using your cooking shovel or spoon to scoop the pork cubes off the sides of the pan and then stir them around in the middle. Make sure they are all well coated with the caramelized sugar.
Add the garlic cloves and continue to stir-fry everything for another 1-½ minutes.
Now toss in the scallions, the optional carrots and potatoes and the star anise, wine, soy sauce, and salt.
Bring the liquid to a boil and let it cook for 3 minutes, without stirring, then cover the pan and continue cooking the pork about 7 more minutes.
Add the water. Bring it to a boil over a high flame and let it boil vigorously for 5 minutes before covering the pan and lowering the heat.
Simmer the pork for 1 hour, or until it becomes very soft. Serve immediately, or reheat and serve later.
(carrots and potatoes)
© 1976 Ellen Schrecker. All rights reserved.