Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Recipe - Double cooked pork with two kinds of beancurd

This is a family recipe handed down to me by my Chinese mother. It's hearty and flavoursome and contains tofu and shitake mushrooms which I believe are "food medicine" - food that's so good for you it should be taken regularly, as preventative medicine against all kinds of illness.
The dish is based on pork belly, a cut of meat striped with thick layers of fat and topped with pork skin, the kind of cut avoided by those squeamish about eating fat. However it must be noted that Chinese use fat as a flavour in dishes - it is the essential flavour in this dish - and very little is actually consumed. This dish would traditionally be eaten at a meal where there is also one or two other vegetable dishes, as well as a soup, rice and perhaps an omelette or fish dish. So the fat on the pork is a very small part of what is consumed in a meal.
Dried tofu sticks are found in most Chinese supermarkets. It can also sometimes be found in the form of pressed sheets.

Double cooked pork with two kinds of beancurd

500g pork belly
small knob ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tbspns dark soy sauce
2 tspns hsiao sing wine (Chinese wine)
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 whole star anise or 1/2 tspn star anise powder
1 packet dried sticks of tofu
250g silken tofu, cut into large cubes
8 dried shitake mushrooms

Score the skin of the pork with a knife and roast in a preheated oven at 220C/425F for 1 hour.
When cooked and cooled a little, cut the pork into squares and fry in a large heavy based saucepan with the ginger and garlic until these are browned. Add soy sauce, hsiao sing wine, oyster sauce, tofu sticks, shitake mushrooms, star anise and enough water to amply cover the ingredients.
Simmer on low to medium heat for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 2 hours (however long you have).
Add silken tofu, being careful so that it won't fall apart - it is very delicate.
Simmer for a further 5 minutes, then serve.

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