Pork 18: Pork Braised with Taixiang (台鯗煨肉)

持牲單::台鯗煨肉
作法與火腿煨肉同。鯗易爛,須先煨肉至八分,再加鯗;涼之,則號「鯗凍」。紹興人菜也。鯗不佳者,不必用。

Xiang, or dried-salted yellow croaker, being aired out on a sunny Hong Kong street, infusing the surrounding air with its pungent and alluring fragrance. (Credit: Leesia)

Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Pork Braised with Taixiang[1]
The technique for this dish is essentially same as the recipe for “pork braised with ham” from before. However, since dried fish softens rapidly when cooked, it should be added only when the braising pork is close to being done [2].

When this dish is allowed to cool and jellify, it becomes a Shaoxing dish known as “xiang aspic” [3]. Note, if the dried fish is of bad quality, do not even consider using it.

Random notes:
[1]: Taixiang (台鯗) is the Chinese name for this particular type of salted and dried yellow croaker. For the same reasons why people don’t call miso soup, “Japanese fermented bean-paste soup”, I will not call the recipe “Pork Braised with Chinese Dried Fish”. However, I’ll use the term “dried-fish” in the actual translation since it does make it more readable by those unintiated to Chinese cuisine.

[2]: Ba-fen (八分) translates to “eight parts” or 8/10 or 80%. Although it would have been more accurate to say “braise the pork until 80% done”, fact is this is a completely qualitative metric and I will not translate it in a manner that allows it an “air” of accuracy. I’ve been doing this in previous recipes and will continue doing so.

[3]This dish in now known in China as “鯗凍肉” or “白鯗燜肉”. Google for pictures.

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Pork 17: Pork Braised with Ham (火腿根肉)

持牲單::火腿根肉
火腿切方塊,冷水滾三次,去湯瀝乾;將肉切方塊,冷水滾二次,去湯瀝乾;放清水煨,加酒四兩、蔥、椒、筍、香蕈。

A rack of Anfu ham, a type of Chinese dry-cured ham that may be used in this recipe. I’m not sure why the ham on the bottom are black. (Credit: WhisperToMe)

Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Pork Braised with Ham [1]
Cut the dry-cured ham into square pieces and boil them, starting from cold water three times in total, [2] and then strain dry. Cut the pork into square pieces, boil them from cold water twice [3] and strain them dry. Braise the prepared ham and pork together in water. To finish the dish, add to it four liang of wine, green onions, Szechuan pepper, bamboo shoots, and shitake mushrooms.

Random notes:
[1]: “Huotui gen rou” (火腿根肉), literally translated to “Ham root pork”, is a completely nonsensical name caused by a Qing Dynasty typesetting error, where æ ¹ (root) was used instead of 煨 (braise). We know this since the following recipe refers back to this one as “Pork braised with Ham” (火腿煨肉).

[2]: This phrase can have two interpretations, both of which would slightly desalt and moisten the dried ham for further cooking: (1) The ham may have been boiled starting from cold water three times, where each time the water boils, it is discarded and replaced with fresh change of cold water. (2) The ham was boiled starting from cold water, but each time it boils the liquid was quenched by adding some cold water before being allowed to come to a boil again. The latter technique is also used to cook shuijiao (annoyingly named “Chinese dumplings” by some).

[3]: The boiling of the pork here is a common technique to prepare meats for stewing or braising. This rids the “gunk” from the surface of the meat as well as congeals any liquid blood still inside it, both of which would cloud-up the braising liquid and muddy the taste of the finished dish.

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. (Credit: Michal Klajban)

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.