Tungpo Pork

I’ve been on hiatus – last Saturday we went to Ed’s Potsticker House, so I didn’t cook. Ed’s was sort of a disappointment, but that was possibly because we didn’t order the right things. The noodles were nice and chewy, but bland; the Kung Pao Chucken turned out to contain bamboo shoot, which I usually hate (it has a raunchy taste I dislike), so that was bad; the potstickers were nothing special (they’re an idiosyncratic tubular shape, which is not a good idea, in my opinion – it doesn’t hold the soy sauce the way the cresent shape does, and it’s harder to eat). Oh well – we went with friends who we don’t see very often, so we had fun anyway.

On to the pork! This is a famous dish, and exemplifies the Chinese love of fat. Here’s the piece of pork belly, which has to be salted and left to sit for 2 hours before starting the recipe:

You can see that some blood-tinged liquid is leeching out of the meat. Here it is after being stewed with soy sauce, wine, scallions and ginger for 2 hours:

The skin is on top. Next, you turn it over so the skin is down, cover it tightly, and steam it (sauce and juices included) for 4 hours. This is an all-day project! Is it worth it? Just look at this next photo. As usual, it got done in time for dinner, and we fell on it like ravenous dogs. It’s very rich, so we divided half of the piece between us – then I realized I had to take a photo fo the finished product – so this is one half of the original piece. Actually, traditionally, it should be a neat square, so this is how it should look, You turn it skin side up to serve – but now the tough pork skin is a thick layer of indescribably delicious pork fat:

And the meat, laced with melting fat, is not too shabby, either. It was like the Ur-pulled-pork. I would like to try to do this “Blackbird” style (at Blackbird, the chef really likes pork belly, and always seems to have it on the menu in one form or another) – I don’t know how they do it, but I would try stewing it with stock and red wine, instead of soy sauce and Chinese rice wine.

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