Pork 16: Sun-Dried Pork (曬乾肉)

持牲單::曬乾肉
切薄片精肉,曬烈日中,以乾為度。用陳大頭菜夾片乾炒。

Modern Chinese grilled pork jerky. Tasty, but otherwise unrelated in substance, preparation, and presentation to Yuan Mei’s sun-dried pork. (Credit: Alpha)


Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Sun-Dried Pork
Thinly slice some lean pork and lay them under strong sunlight until sufficiently dry. Stir-fry the pork with thinly sliced preserved kohlrabi. [1][2]

Random notes:
[1]: The literal translation here is “old/preserved big-headed vegetable” (陳大頭菜). I know of two vegetables are called “big-headed” due to their swollen stems, one is the kohlrabi the other is Brassica juncea var. tatsai. I’m not sure which one is being referred to here, so I’ll just go out on a limb to say it’s the former.

[2]: In modern Chinese cuisine grilling sun-dried pork/pork jerky before eating is quite common, but this is the first time I have heard of stir-frying pork jerky with anything. That said, this dish does sound like an interesting drinking snack (下酒菜).

Pork 15: Tuosha Pork (脫沙肉)

持牲單::脫沙肉
去皮切碎,每一斤用雞子三個,青黃俱用,調和拌肉,再斬碎;入秋油半酒杯,蔥末拌勻,用網油一張裹之;外再用菜油四兩,煎兩面,起出去油;用好酒一茶杯,清醬半酒杯悶透,提起切片;肉之面上加韭菜、香蕈、筍丁。

A few centuries after Yuan Mei and half-way around the world, we see Czech meatloaf being prepared in almost the exact same manner as Tousha pork. It seems different cultures happen to come upon the same culinary techniques over and over again.


Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Tuosha Pork [1]
Take a chunk of pork, remove the skin and chop the meat until it is thoroughly minced. For each jin of pork stir in the yolks and whites of three chicken eggs, then mash the mixture until its texture is fine and smooth. Mix in half a wine cup of autumn sauce and chopped green onion, then wrap this mixture in a large sheet of caul fat. Pan fry the wrapped meat in four liang of vegetable oil until both sides are done and remove it from the wok.

Unwrap the meat [2] and simmer it gently in one tea cup of good wine and half a wine cup of light soy sauce. Remove it from the wok, slice, and finish with a topping of garlic chives, shitake mushrooms, and cubes of bamboo shoots.

Random notes:

[1]: Despite its fancy name, this is basically Chinese-styled meatloaf.

[2]: I believe this step of removing the wrapper around the cooked meat is the namesake of the dish. “Tuosha” (脫沙) literally means “removing the layer of sand” and is used by jade hunters to describe removing the outer sandy/hazy layer on a chunk of raw jade. Removing the crusty fried caul fat would have this effect. Another interpretation is that “sand” (沙) in this case may be a shorthand for gauze(紗布), which would refer to the gauzy caul fat used in the preparation of the dish that has to be removed before finishing and serving, hence lifting the gauze. Yet another interpretation, would be that the “sand” (沙 )acutally refers to a veil (面紗), and thus the name of this dish would be “lifting the veil”. A name wih slight flirtatious connotations?

WWII Horror in Doll Country

Thinking back, there were some pretty disturbing Chinese children’s song that I sang as a kid without knowing it. One song in particular comes to mind:

娃娃國
娃娃國.娃娃兵.金髮藍眼睛
娃娃國王鬍子長.騎馬出王宮
娃娃兵.在演習.提防敵人攻
機關槍.達達達.原子彈.轟轟轟

Doll Country
In the doll country, the doll soldiers have blond hair and blue eyes.
The King of doll country, his beard long, exits his castle on his horse.
The soldiers of doll country are carrying out military exercises, to guard against invading enemies.
Bang-bang-bang goes the machine guns. Boom-boom-boom goes the atomic bombs.

Though I’m unsure of this song’s origins, it probably came after prolonged cultural contact with the West and Japan during WWII. Its short 4 lines are chocked full of military references, where soldiers are rallied, military excercises are carried-out, machine guns are fired, and the atom bombs dropped. And is that a reference to the NAZI concept of the “Aryan Army” that I see?

I strongly suspect this is a product of the turmoil experienced collectively by the Chinese during the 1900’s, which one way or another spilled over into this particular Children’s song. Whether it served some sort of cathartic purpose back then, I don’t know. One thing’s for sure though; this song is disgustingly twisted.

A giant dose of WTF

Pork 14: Pork in Porcelain Urn (磁壇裝肉)

持牲單::磁壇裝肉
放礱糠中慢煨。法與前同。總須封口。

Rice chaff can be used for cooking. Interesting. (Credit: Green)


Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Pork in Porcelain Urn
Prepare the pork as in the previous recipes, [1] but braise it by placing the covered bowl into smouldering rice chaff. [2] It is important for the lid of the bowl to be tightly sealed in this preparation. [3]

Random notes:
[1]: This recipe probably tasted more or less like the previous “Dry-Steamed” Pork (乾鍋蒸肉) and Pork in Lidded Bowl (蓋碗裝肉) recipes, which in turn tastes more or less like pork stewed in a crock.

[2]: First time I’ve heard of a Chinese baking technique using burning rice chaff. A rareness in among rareness.

[3]: Seal your container well, oherwise the pork will end up tasting like smoky rice chaff.

Pork 13: Pork in Lidded Bowl (蓋碗裝肉)

持牲單::蓋碗裝肉
放手爐上。法與前同。

The stove used for this recipe is probably less like a hand-warmer and more like a charcoal burning stove used in this Thai Chim-chum (Credit: Takeaway)

Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Pork in Lidded Bowl
Prepare the pork as with the previous recipe. [1] However, place the large bowl directly on top of a hand-warming stove [2] to cook.

Random notes:
[1]: The recipe probably tastes more or less like the previous “Dry-Steamed” Pork (乾鍋蒸肉) recipe, which is in turn more or less pork stewed in a crock.

[2]: Shoulu (手爐) is a small hand-warmer carried by people in their sleeves during the old dynastic days to warm their hands on particularly cold days. Whether this dish uses an actual hand-warming stove or just a small stove, I don’t know.

Pork 12: “Dry-Steamed” Pork (乾鍋蒸肉)

持牲單::乾鍋蒸肉
用小磁缽,將肉切方塊,加甜酒、秋油,裝大缽內封口,放鍋內,下用文火乾蒸之。以兩枝香為度,不用水。秋油與酒之多寡,相肉而行,以蓋滿肉面為度。

Two Chinese shaguo (沙鍋) would work perfectly for this recipe. (Credit: Qurren)


Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Dry-steamed [1] pork
Chop the pork into cubes and combine with sweet wine and autumn sauce in a small bowl. [2] Place the small bowl into a larger bowl, then seal the large bowl and place it into the wok to “dry-steam” for a period two incense sticks without any water.

The quantity of autumn sauce and wine to use depends on one’s taste and the quantity of meat being prepared. Typically though, the braising liquids should just cover the top of the meat.

Random notes:
[1]: Yuan Mei’s dry-steaming process is basically using a wok to do Western style dutch-oven/ceramic pot type stewing, somewhat akin to a cassoulet.

[2]: Actually cibo (磁缽) means “earthenware mortar” or “earthenware alms bowl”, basically a thick-walled ceramic bowl. By cooking with one thick-walled ceramic vessel inside another all baked inside a wok, the actual cooking heat would be low, slow, even, and perfect for braising.

Pork 11: Fried Pork (油灼肉)

持牲單::油灼肉
用硬短勒切方塊,去筋袢,酒醬郁過,入滾油中炮炙之,使肥者不膩,精者肉鬆。將起鍋時,加蔥、蒜,微加醋噴之。

Yuan Mei’s shallow-fried pork belly would have looked very similar to this pork-chop dish. It’s even finished with green onions and garlic! (Credit: BrokenSphere)


Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Fried Pork
Take a slab of pork belly taken from near the ribs [1] and cut it into squares. Remove any sinew and marinade in wine and soy sauce. Fry the pork into a wok with generous amounts of oil until the fat is no longer greasy [2] and the lean meat is tender. To finish the pork, season it with green onions, garlic, and a drizzle of vinegar.

Random notes:

[1]: It took me a while to guess what “ying duan lei” (硬短勒) actually means since its literal translation is the nonsensical phrase “hard, short strangle”. But if we assume that the last word is the same as the similar sounding word “lei” (肋) meaning “rib”, then the phrase would refer to the slab of meat on top of the short bony ribs of the pig known sometimes as pork breast, or pork belly. It’s quite comforting to find out later that people who are are interested in the Suiyuan Shidan agree that “硬短勒” is indeed pork breast, known as “五花肉” in Chinese.

[2]: An obvious question to this translation is “How can fat not be greasy?” The word “ni” (膩) is used to describe the nauseating feeling that one gets when one has eaten too much greasy food, or the texture of greasy oil-logged foods resulting from bad frying technique. In Chinese gastronomy the term “油而不膩” gets used a lot, which is used to describe the successful preparation of a fatty food such that on a “greasiness” scale it can be pleasently oily in mouthfeel but not so oily that it makes one nauseated when eating. One of the ways to do this is the method described here: frying in oil. I’m not sure how it all works, but maybe rendering out the some of the grease turns the fat in the meat into something quite nice?

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