Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chairman Mao's Red Braised Pork

or 毛氏紅燒肉 (máo shì hóng shāo ròu)

This recipe is by Fuchsia Dunlop, found in her book:  Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook (Recipes from Hunan Province)

(image lifted from Google images)

According to Wikipedia, Hunan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the south-central part of the country to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting.  It is said to be one of the most beautiful provinces of Chines, being surrounded with the natural beauty of mountains all around the its east, west, and south sides, and by the Yangtze River on its north side.  Its cuisine?  Hot, delicious, and hot!

The name "red braised pork" indicates the method of cooking used - red braising, or red cooking, which is basically a cooking technique where food, typically meat, is browned with caramelized sugar, after which the meat is stewed in a rice wine and dark soy sauce broth, with spices, for some time.

As for the possessive aspect of the title, it is said that this is the favorite dish of Chairman Mao (Tse-Tung, founder of the People's Republic of China).  The dish is so famous that the Chinese government has even issued guidelines for it, otherwise the restaurant or chef/cook making and serving it cannot claim that it is authentic.  One of the regulations involve a specific kind of pork/pig meat to be used.  Interesting, huh?

Anyway, here is my dish:

Still in the pan, final 5 minutes of braising -

And, on the table, ready to be devoured -

The recipe can be found here.

My dish did not come out looking as well as the photo in the book (which is incidentally the book cover photo also) but that may have been because of -

1.  I am not so fond of pork fat or skin, so I trimmed them off.  And I sliced my meat in smaller chunks.  These appear to have the biggest impact since my dish was not "gelatinous" due to the leanness of the meat I used.
2.  I did not have dark soy sauce so I used light soy sauce, which meant that my dish would not have an intense red-brown color.
2.  I braised my dish for about 45 minutes only.  My reason?  I ran out of time because the first time I tried to caramelize the sugar, it ended up being burnt because the little girl kept calling me...  apparently, the longer the meat is braised, the better.

Nevertheless, the dish was really delicious.  Even hubby was impressed!


September 25, 2013

Not being satisfied with my pale dish, I went out and bought dark soy sauce and made the dish again.  This time, I kept the skin on the pork and sliced the pieces bigger... and I cooked the dish in my magic cooker for about 4 hours...

I like the result.  The color is lovely, and the meat was sooooo soft...

Double yay!

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