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.
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.
Clean the scallions, then cut them, both the white part and about half the green, into 2-inch lengths.
Peel the garlic cloves, then chop them rather coarsely into pieces about the size of a grain of rice.
Peel the ginger, then chop it into pieces approximately the size of a match head; you should get about 1 tablespoonful of chopped ginger.
Cut each square of bean curd into 12 chunks.
Mix the cornstarch with the water in a small bowl and set aside.
(garlic) (ginger) (pork) (scallions) (bean curd)
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.
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.
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.
Add the scallions and soy sauce and continue to stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
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.
© 1976 Ellen Schrecker. All rights reserved.