A 2012 survey conducted in the UK confirmed that Britain's favourite meal was a stir fry, yes you read me right a stir fry. I'm not entirely sure what the heck that means in all honesty, to me a Stir fry is not a dish but a cooking method.
Unfortunately real Chinese food in this country is extremely difficult to find, us Brits associate Chinese food with gloopey bright red sweet and sour sauces, and the very westernised Chow mein, that I can only presume is an invented western version of Chinese bubble and squeak. In Chinese culture gastronomy has always been highly regarded, they pride themselves on eating a wide variety of foods, whilst still keeping true to the traditions of their food culture, I often wonder what they think to our adaptations of their prized cuisine.
I first tried this wonderful dish with my husband, we had stumbled by a restaurant that was very dark and dingy, and full of homesick Chinese students which I suspect where missing their home cuisine. You know when you are eating somewhere authentically Chinese when you are a)The only westerners there b)the menu is not in English and you have to point to an image c)you can hear the gently clattering of tea cups and a murmur of mandarin tongue. This is when I know I am on to a good thing.
My husband being the very smart man he is always leaves it up to the waiter to recommend an authentic dish and this is what were served, Huí Guō Ròu simply means returned to the pot, meltingly tender fiery strips of belly pork cooked with ramps, leeks or baby leeks. At first glance it seems as though replicating a dish like this is utterly incomprehensible, but it was actually much easier than I thought, and was utterly delicious. This is one for all you chilli lovers out there.
You will need:
1 1/2 kg pork belly
3 red chillies
5 baby leeks
3 tbsp Sichuan chilli bean paste
1 tbsp tian Mianjiang or hoisin sauce
1 tbsp black bean paste
2 spring onions (dark green part only)
1 tbsp veg oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
This dish is far to easy to make, the only complicated step is the twice cooking of the pork and that is really a doddle! Place the pork in a very large pan of boiling water so that the water covers the pork and boil for 25 minutes, remove from the pan and refrigerate overnight, this will allow the fat to solidify making it easier to slice.
The following day slice the pork belly as wafer thin as you can manage and set to one side. Make sure that you slice your ramps (or leeks) chillies and spring onions so that you are ready to go, this really helps when cooking Chinese food.
Firstly heat the oil in a wok until it is smoking hot, then stir fry the pork only, until each piece is slightly crisp and golden, it will also help to render the fat of the pork. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon from the wok and let it drain slightly in a colinder, you don't want to remove all the fat but too much is not good either so a little can be drained away with the meat.
To the residual oil add the chili bean paste, tian Mianjiang, black bean paste, sugar, chillies and soy, allow this to cook for a minute before returning the pork back to the pan with the leeks and spring onions, allow all the ingredients to cook together for a couple of minutes until the leeks are just softened, serve immediately on clouds of fluffy steamed rice!
Heaven on earth.