I suppose most people look at a pork chop as a single serving item… it makes up the meat bit in England’s ‘meat and 2 veg’, or the meat bit in America’s ‘meat, starch, another starch, and sugary soft drink dinner.’ But one should learn to look beyond the single piece that came out of the pack from the supermarket. I address this because the local market had one of those sales on the big pack of pork chops. I get most of my meat in such a manner, either chops, pork butt, roasts, or steaks. I just cut them into smaller, useable cuts and freeze them. It saves a fair bit of money. Also it is a small way to push back against the over consumption and waste that have become synonymous with America. The significant post 1950s rise of meat consumption specifically and the increase in caloric intake more broadly, is unhealthy, partially drives the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, and is probably environmentally unsustainable.
So today let’s work on how to turn a pork chop into a couple, three dishes, each serving about 4 people. Generally the chinese recipes I have call for about 8-10 oz. of meat (sometimes less) and are meant to serve 6 with a variety of other dishes present.
The easiest thing to do is split and shred the pork loin (no, I guess the easiest thing to do would be to make what they call a “pork tenderloin” in Iowa, which is essentially a pork schnitzel, the Japanese have a version called “tonkatsu” both are great in their own way). Anyway, take the pork loin split it and shred it. There is a number of chinese stir fry dishes that call for “pork threads” 肉絲 (rou si). If you don’t split the loin you end up with 肉片 (rou pian) pork slices of which there are probably just as many recipes for.
花瓜肉絲 Stir Fried Taiwanese Pickles and Shredded Pork
This dish is fairly simple and the slightly sweet flavor of the pickles gives an interesting accent to the pork. The only tricky bit is that you will have to find some Taiwanese pickles. They are a little different than western pickles in that they are brined in a solution that contains soy sauce.
- 10 oz. shredded pork loin
- 1/2 c. oil for frying
- 1 green onion, cut into 2 inch pieces and split
- 3/4 c. Taiwanese pickled cucumbers, shredded
- 2 1/2 T. pickled cucumber liquid, from the jar
- 1/2 T. rice wine
- 1 T. of cornstarch
- 2 T. pickled cucumber liquid
- 2 T. soy sauce
- In a bowl mix the Marinade (cucumber liquid, rice wine, and cornstarch) with the shredded pork. Mix in 2 T. of oil before frying to allow meat to separate.
- Heat a wok add the 1/2 c. oil. Stir fry the meat until cooked, remove and set aside. Remove the oil.
- Reheat the wok and add 1 T. of oil, add the green onions and stir fry until fragrant. Add meat and cucumbers. Add Seasoning (cucumber liquid and soy sauce) stir to mix. Remove and serve.
As for the various other bits of meat on the chop there are a variety of uses for that as well. Including, but limited to pork pies, curries, stews, and any stir fry dish that calls for cubed pork 肉丁 (rou ding).
Yeah ok this is not really cooking…this is open box etc. But It is absolutely great and quick. I try to keep a box of instant curry roux on hand most of the time. I pretty much double the amount of vegetable and add a few extras kinds if I have them. There is enough sauce to cover quite a lot. Boxes of Japanese curry are pretty easy to find, even down at the local Safeway, just check the Japanese section. You can go to all the trouble of making your own curry roux if you like, but I usually just have it as a quick and easy meal.
Check out S&B for a quick instruction vid.
酸菜炒肉丁 Diced Pork with Pickled Mustard Cabbage
This is just salty, sour goodness. This dish uses 酸菜 (suan cai) sour pickled mustard cabbage which gives it a rather distinctive taste and aroma. I don’t like to throw around the term “authentic” to much, but this does not taste like a dish you get down at the local Panda Express.
- 1/2 lb cubed pork
- 1 c. 酸菜 pickled mustard cabbage, diced
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 T. diced red chili pepper
- 1/2 c. fried peanuts (or roasted peanuts)
- 1 t. rice wine
- 1/4 t. salt
- 3/4 T. cornstarch
- 1 T. rice wine
- 1 T. soy bean paste 豆瓣醬
- 1 T. soy sauce
- 1 t. sugar
- dash of sesame oil
- In a bowl mix the Marinade (rice wine, salt, corn starch) with the cubed pork and set aside. Mix in 2 T. of oil before frying so the meat separates.
- In a separate bowl mix the Seasoning (rice wine, soy bean paste, soy sauce) and set aside.
- Heat wok add 1/3 c. oil. Stir fry the meat until cooked, remove and set aside. Drain most of the oil from the wok, leaving about 2 T.
- Reheat wok, add the minced garlic and the diced red chili pepper, stir fry until fragrant. Add the pickled mustard greens and quickly mix. Add the meat and theSeasoning mix and stir fry for a few seconds. Add in the peanuts and mix to coat. Remove and serve.
And the bones, don’t forget the bones, they can be used for soups or stock generally. Soups such as Korean Gamjatang or the Chinese Bamboo Shoot and Pork Chop soup are both great.
筍子排骨湯 Bamboo Shoot and Pork Chop Soup.
Yeah so it is not a pretty dish, but it reminds me of the buffet restaurants in Taiwan. The title suggests that it is made with pork chops, but I never seen much of any meat in the pots. These kind of soups are drank after eating your meal. Not as a started course as they are in the west.
Ingredients: bones from about 4 or 5 pork chops (with a little meat attached), 1 small can of sliced bamboo shoots, 1 c. chicken stock, about 4 c. of water, and salt to taste.
Method: Blanch the pork chop bones, clean the pot. Add the liquids (water and stock) and the bones bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the drained bamboo shoots and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add a little bit of salt if desired (generally there is very little if any added in Taiwan)
Ok a more complex recipe is at Eating China. Mine was just me trying to replicate what I had in Taiwan’s lunch joints.
So do your pocketbook a favor (and possibly your health) and chop your chop.