Deep-Fried Pork Chops

Zha Paigu

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Flavor: UniqueMeal: Almost in Advance, Fried

    When we lived on Taiwan, we used to eat these crisp-fried pork chops almost every other day. Here in America we enjoy serving them to our friends because they can’t believe they are Chinese. They look just like the simple fried pork chops they are, plain pieces of meat coated with batter and fried in deep fat. No exotic sauce or garniture of sliced ginger betrays their Oriental origin. But underneath their crisp exterior these pork chops are very Chinese, indeed. They have been marinated in soy sauce, shredded ginger, scallions, and sesame oil, a process that gives them a rich, nutlike flavor no American pork chops have ever known. And because they are still just pork chops, they are equally at home in either an American or a Chinese setting. Sometimes Mrs. Chiang serves them with some rice and a plate of stir-fried vegetables; sometimes she serves them as the topping for a simple dish of boiled noodles (see Pork Chop Noodles). Either way, they are a crisp and subtle departure from more customary Chinese or American fare. We love them.

    Method

    Preparation

    4 very thin pork chops (even with the bones, they shouldn’t weigh more than a pound) Trim most of the fat from the pork chops, but do not remove the bones. Score the meat lightly on both sides in a tiny diamond pattern, with the cuts about ½ inch apart. Then use the back of your cleaver or some other heavy utensil to pound the meat as you would pound and flatten veal scallops. Do this on both sides so the meat becomes very thin, then put the pork chops on a large, flat plate.
    4 scallions Clean the scallions, then smash them with the flat side of your cleaver. Cut the smashed scallions into 2-inch lengths and sprinkle these over the meat.
    1-inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then cut it into thin slivers, about ⅛ inch wide, the width of a wooden matchstick. Add to the meat.

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 teaspoon sesame oil

    1 teaspoon granulated sugar

    Sprinkle the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar over the pork chops. Turn the chops over and over until they are covered with the marinade. Set aside for 10 minutes.

    Cooking

    1 cup peanut or other cooking oil

    ½ cup cornstarch

    Heat your wok or whatever pan you normally use for deep-fat frying over a high flame for 15 seconds, then pour in the oil. While you are waiting for the oil to heat up, a process that will take several minutes at least, pour the cornstarch onto a flat plate.
    (pork chops) Remove the pieces of scallion and ginger from the pork chops and dip each chop into the cornstarch. Make sure each piece of meat is thoroughly coated with cornstarch; press it in with your hands, if necessary.
    When the oil in the pan is smoking lightly and seems hot enough for cooking, put in the pork chops; they are so thin they will cook very quickly. Turn them over after 30 seconds and fry them for about 1 minute on the second side, then turn them over again to fry for a final 15 to 30 seconds. They are done when both sides are a deep, golden brown.
    Drain the fried pork chops on some paper towels for a few seconds and serve.