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.
Firstly some background information of this famous Shui Zhu series. 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.
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; Secondly, 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.
- 150 g pork chops or pork butt , highly recommend the butt
- 1 small bunch of water spinach , root removed and cut into sections
- pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons starch , recommend potato starch or sweet potato starch
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
- 1.5 tablespoon water , or slightly more if needed
- 2 green onions , white part cut into 2cm long and green pert chopped
- 2 star anises
- 5-8 dried chili pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan pepper
- 1 tablespoon doubajiang
- 1 teaspoon dou-chi , optional
- water as needed
- 1 +2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 garlic cloves , sliced
- 1 thumb ginger , sliced
- coriander for garnishing
Slice the pork thinly and then add pinch of salt, starch, cooking wine and water. Combine well and set aside for 10 minutes. The pork slices should be well coated with the starch. This is to guarantee the thin outside layer protecting the pork overcooked.
In a wok, add 1 tablespoon of oil, fry half of the chili pepper, half of Sichuan peppercorn, star anise over lowest fire until aroma. Then add ginger, garlic and green onion whites, cook for around another 30 seconds.
Add doubanjiang and dou-chi in, fry until you can see the red oil come out.
Pour around 1L water in. Simmer for around 15-20 minutes with lid covered. During this process, you may smell the strong aroma bought by the broth.
During the process, in another pot, cook water spinach for around 30 seconds in boiling water (with pinch of salt and several drops of oil). Transfer out and lay in the bottom of the serving bowl.
Grasp the pork 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.
Heat up around 2 tablespoons of cooking oil again in wok with the left chili pepper and Sichuan pepper over slow fire until really hot (you can smell the strong aroma and the chili pepper begins to turn dark). Evenly pour the oil on the surface of the serving bowl. Be careful during the process; do not get burnt!
Serve directly or garnish with green onion and 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.