Red-Cooked Bean Curd

Hongshao Doufu

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Flavor: Reddish-Brown: Red-cooked

    Hongshao, or red-cooking, simply means that a dish contains soy sauce; hongshao dishes range from stews simmered for hours in rich sauce to simple combinations of stir-fried vegetables. Mrs. Chiang’s repertoire of hongshao recipes covers a wide range of dishes. Her Red Cooked Bean Curd is a casual preparation of bean curd and pork in a dark and spicy sauce. The creamy blandness of the bean curd is a marvelous foil for the typically Szechwanese kaleidoscope of flavors in the sauce. You can tone down the pepperiness a bit, but not too much. This is supposed to be a hot dish.

    Method

    Preparation

    2 medium pork chops (for a yield of 8 ounces meat, approximately) Cut the bones and fat away from the pork chops, but reserve the fat from one of the chops. Slice the lean sections as thinly as you can, to get wafer-thin slices of meat about 3 inches long by ½ inch wide. (It is always easier to slice meat very thinly if you first put it into the freezer for about 10 minutes, until it becomes slightly stiff but not frozen.) Dice the reserved fat into cubes about ½ inch on each side.
    4 scallions Clean the scallions, then cut them, both the white part and about half the green, into 2-inch lengths.
    3 cloves garlic Peel the garlic cloves, then chop them rather coarsely into pieces about the size of a grain of rice.
    1-inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then chop it into pieces approximately the size of a match head; you should get about 1 tablespoonful of chopped ginger.
    6 squares fresh bean curd Cut each square of bean curd into 12 chunks.

    1 tablespoon cornstarch

    ½ cup water

    Mix the cornstarch with the water in a small bowl and set aside.

    Cooking

    ½ cup peanut oil Heat your wok or pan over a high flame for about 15 seconds, then add the oil. The oil should be hot enough to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.
    (pork fat) When the oil is ready, throw in the cubes of pork fat and let them fry until crisp, pressing the cubes gently against the sides of the pan with your cooking shovel or spoon to help them render their fat more rapidly.

    (garlic)

    (ginger)

    1 tablespoon hot pepper paste

    (pork)

    After the fat cubes have become crisp, quickly add the chopped garlic, ginger, hot pepper paste, and pork slices. Stir-fry vigorously for about 30 seconds, using your cooking shovel or spoon to scoop the pork and seasonings from the sides of the pan and then stir them around in the middle, so all are exposed to the hot oil.

    (scallions)

    5 tablespoons soy sauce

    Add the scallions and soy sauce and continue to stir-fry for another 30 seconds.

    (bean curd)

    1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

    Throw in the bean curd, then taste the sauce and add the salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and let the bean curd cook, uncovered, over a moderate flame for about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
    (cornstarch and water) Stir the cornstarch and water to make sure they are well combined, then pour the mixture into the pan. Stir-fry vigorously until the sauce has thickened and become clear, a few seconds at most, then serve.