Infamous Szechuan pork in Chili Broth but an outstanding Shui Zhu dish you should never miss. Like most of the Szechuan dishes, it is simple as long as the ingredients are well prepared.
Shui Zhu, literally translated as water boiled, is a special item referring to a cooking method popular in Sichuan Cuisine. There are two unique features of this cooking method: the first one is the famous seasoning like doubanjiang, Sichuan pepper, Sichuan dried chili pepper (which usually presents a bright red color but less spicy taste) and green onion, ginger and garlic cloves. The second one is the very last step—pouring hot oil over the dish, which can extremely keep the aroma inside the meat and vegetable.
However usually Shui Zhu dishes are home-friendly dishes. You can easily make restaurant style at home or even better! Vegetables are firstly placed at the bottom of the serving bowl. Cabbage, Napa cabbage, bean sprouts and Chinese water spinach are usually used. Pick your favorite or combine several together. I am using water spinach, as it is freshly available in the market now.
How to keep the pork slices tender.
Firstly choose the right part of pork. I recommend using pork butt which creates the best tender texture.
Secondly, in order to keep the pork as tender as possible, there are two tips– firstly, the slices should be evenly coated with starch, which will create a smooth surface and prevent the pork to be overcooked; We also need to limit the cooking time after the broth boils again to less than 30 seconds. As you can see from the following picture, there are transparent layers outside the slices. If you love Shui Zhu dishes, check Shui Zhu Fish too.
How to improve the broth to the next level.
One of the secret of really profound and aromatic Shui Zhu broth is the hot pot broth added. The paste has the best flavor of spices and aromatics. You can use any type of spice hot pot soup base. Any a very small amount is needed. If you can’t get it, simple replace with doubanjiang.
Slice the pork thinly and then add pinch of white pepper, light soy sauce, oyster sauce and cooking wine. Combine well and set aside for 15 minutes. Then add water starch to coat well. Set aside.
Pour 800ml hot water. Then season the broth with 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce. Let it simmer fro 5-8 minutes.
In the meantime, blanch bean sprouts and oyster mushroom in boiling water. Then lay in the bottom of the serving bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon of oil in the marinated pork and mix them again to make sure they are evenly coated. Turn up fire and add the pork slices in and cook until the broth begin to boil again. Wait for around 20 to 30 seconds and transfer them out immediately.
Pour the broth to fill the container. Place fresh garlic, chopped peppers prepared in step 1, chopped green onion, white sesame seeds on top, then pour 2 tablespoon of hot oil on top. Serve immediately.
- 1 small bunch of bean sprouts
- 1 small bunch of oyster mushrooms , break into smaller pieces
- coriander for garnishing
- 200 g pork butt or pork tenderloin , highly recommend the butt
- 1/2 tbsp. Shaoxing wine , optional
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. oyster sauce , optional
- 1 tsp. vegetable cooking oil
- white pepper
- 3 tbsp. starch + 3 tbsp. water
- 12-20 dried chili pepper , or as needed
- 1 tbsp. Sichuan pepper
- 4 tbsp. vegetable cooking oil , divided
- 2 tbsp. doubajiang , or half doubanjiang and half hot pot soup base
- 800 ml hot water as needed
- 2 green onions , white part cut into 2cm long and green pert chopped
- 3 garlic cloves , chopped
- 1 thumb ginger , sliced
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp. sugar
Heat 12 to 20 dried chili peppers for half minute and then 1 tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorn in wok until slightly aromatic. Move out, cool down and then roughly chop.
In a wok, add 2 tablespoon of oil, fry doubanjiang and hot pot seasoning if you are using with slow fire until the red turns red, then add ginger, scallion sections, garlic, fry for 1 minute until aromatic too. Then place 1/3 of the chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorn we prepared in the first step.
Pour 800ml hot water. Then season the broth with 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce. Let it simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Serve directly with coriander.
The dish needs to be served immediately as the left heat inside will continuing heating the slices. But watch out your mouth. Take one piece out and cool down for several seconds before enjoying.