Although I enjoy Chinese food I’ve very little experience making it – there’s an assumption on my part, rightly or wrongly, that it’s somehow difficult. I bought the following book partly to make me give it a go (and also it only cost 50p). The book is ‘Cheap Chow – Chinese Cooking on next to nothing‘ by Kenneth Lo, published by Pan in 1978. I have no idea how popular Chinese food was in the seventies, but I assume that it wasn’t a very frequently cooked cuisine in the average home (nb, I wasn’t around in the seventies, so please set me to rights if I’m assuming wrongly). This recipe book suffers no fools though, and gives a very decent run through of Chinese cooking techniques, including recipes for the standards Red Sauce and Master Sauce, which Lo explains are the basis of many a dish. I’ve certainly made a mental note to set an afternoon aside to slow cook some meat in the red sauce. I decided to start with something easy though:
Shredded pork stir-fried with bean-sprouts and spring onions
325g pork (lean or lean and fat)
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 stalks spring onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons lard
3 tablespoons soya sauce
4-5 tablespoons meat or bone stock
1.5 teaspoons sugar
Pepper to taste
Slice pork into large shreds. Sprinkle and rub with salt. Cut spring onions into 2cm segments. Heat the oil and fat in a large saucepan. When very hot add prok and stir-fry over heigh heat for 2 minutes. Add sprouts. Continue to stir-fry over high heat for another 2 minutes until all the sprouts are well lubricated with oil. Pour in the soya sauce, stock and sugar. Sprinkle with pepper (to taste). Stir-fry for a further 2 minutes. Sprinkle with spring onions and serve.
- I had to cook it for a little longer as my bits of pork were not cooking very quickly. This meant the spring onions ended up a little cooked.
- I used boneless pork chops with a reasonable to small amount of fat on them, which was the right amount, I felt.
- I got to buy lard! More fats for my fridge! Groan.
- It’s an incredibly easy recipe – I was attracted to the brief ingredients list, and the straighforward processes. It’s essentially chop, fry, serve.
- I was concerned that there wasn’t enough liquid, but the beansprouts provide plenty – I had this for lunch the next day and by that point there was a thick, glutinous broth formed at the bottom of the pot. This broth was gorgeous, and you could drink it on its own (and I did).
- Similar concern was that there isn’t really any seasoning beyond soy, but I was forgetting that a) soy is great, and b) the recipe also has salt and fat in.
This recipe is deceptive in its simplicity, and has a surprising depth of flavour and heartiness which means I will make this again. My only improvement would be to get the pork tenderer, as it was a tiny bit tough. First helping I had it with vermicelli, but I ate the next helping without a carb element and it is a strong enough dish to withstand being served on its own.