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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