This dish is often on menus in mediocre Chinese restaurants in the West where it invariably appears as a sweet, gluey, reddish concoction. This version, however, captures the virtues of the classic dish, “Gulao Pork.” In China, gulao means venerable. In it, a sour taste was obtained from such fruits as plums, oranges, and berries, then combined with sweetened vinegar and other seasonings. Below I use fresh orange juice along with sugar and vinegar. The “sweets” and “sours” combine and penetrate the meat, while the shallots provide a rich and fragrant background.
Cut the pork into
In a small saucepan, heat the oil and add the shallots and sugar. Cook over low heat until the sauce becomes a light caramel colour, about 2 minutes. Pour in the Chinese red vinegar and orange juice and simmer for 4 minutes. Gently beat in the cornflour mixture, and when the sauce thickens, season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside and keep warm.
Combine the flour and
Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the oil and a few pork pieces and deep-fry until cooked through, about 4 minutes. You will have to do this in several batches. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Drain off all the oil from the wok or pan, wipe it clean, and reheat the sauce. Return the fried pork pieces to the wok and stir to coat well with the sauce. Serve at once.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.