Sweet, salty, and spicy – three of my favourite flavour profiles are combined in this Shanghai Style Braised Chili Pork recipe to create a wonderfully, tasty dish which comes together easily and effortlessly. This dish is the epitome of bang for your buck!
If I could only eat pork just one way, this just might be it! Wait, who am I kidding? I’d pick pork over chicken, beef, or fish, etc., any day, but I’m not about to limit myself to cooking it just one way. But, let me be the first to tell you, Dear Reader, this Shanghai Style Braised Chili Pork is pork perfection!
My blog is not anywhere near shy of pork recipes. And, if you take a moment to look around, you’ll notice that most of those recipes showcase pork in bite-sized pieces. Either I have a thing for bite-sized pork dishes, or I find the task of slicing and dicing pork to be extremely satisfying. I’m really not sure.
Pork is cheap. I love that I can spend ten dollars on a rather large pork loin or pork butt and get two or three meals from it, and the cool thing is that each one of those meals can have a completely different flavour profile. You see, Dear Reader, pork is like tofu – it can take almost any flavour or cooking method you throw at it. In this particular instance, I’m trying a technique I’ve never tried before.
In this particular recipe, the first step has you browning the sugar. Well, from what I can gather, the process of cooking white sugar in oil is referred to as browning, although, that’s not what you’re trying to achieve. The browning process basically refers to the melting or dissolving of the sugar into the oil, before adding the pork.
The next part of the recipe, with the water, kinda blew me away. I was a little worried thinking I had just ruined a perfectly good cut of pork, but as the water evaporated, the pork began to tenderize, until finally, it began to brown and caramelize. I want to say that this might be my new favourite pork recipe, but I’d be lying, because we all know by now that I can’t choose just one particular pork recipe!
Shanghai style cooking is a popular style of Chinese food and refers to complex and developed styles of cooking under profound influence of colour, aroma, and taste. Like other Chinese cuisines, Shanghai cooking emphasizes the use of seasonings, the quality of ingredients and original flavours.
Shanghai dishes usually appear red and shiny because they are often pickled in wine. They are cooked using a variety of methods including baking, stewing, braising, steaming and deep-frying. Much like this particular recipe, sugar is an important ingredient in Shanghai cuisine, especially when used in combination with soy sauce.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Shanghai style dishes, there’s no time like the present. Deep and rich in colour, with a sweet and salty flavour, Shanghai Style Braises Chili Pork is a great place to start!
Shanghai Style Braised Chili Pork
- 3 pounds pork, cut into 1 inch pieces*
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 cup green onions, cut into 1 inch peices
- 10 whole dried chilies**
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, optional
- 2 cups water
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the oil and sugar. Stir continuously for 5 minutes until the sugar is mostly dissolved into the oil.
- Add the pork and stir. Allow the pork to cook until lightly browned - about 10 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and water. Stir to combine. Cover the skillet with a tight lid and reduce the heat to simmer. Allow the pork to simmer for 60 minutes - check every 10 minutes or so to make sure the skillet doesn't dry out and the pork doesn't burn.
- If you find the skillet is getting too dry, add 1/4 cup of water, but if you're close to the one hour mark, do not add the water.
- Remove the lid and turn the heat back to medium. Add the chilies (whole or crushed) and stir into the pork. At this point, you will want to brown the meat so keep an eye on it. It's already cooked, so now you're paying attention to the texture and look of the dish.
- When the pork has browned to your liking, add the green onions and half of the sesame seeds (if using.)
- Toss to coat everything well. Turn off the heat and allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes.
- Serve with steamed white rice or veggies and garnish with chopped green onions, dried chilies, and sesame seeds.
**The whole dried chilies can be replaced with dried chili flakes. Just use as much as you want in terms of how hot you want the dish to be. If you use the whole dried chilies, you can place them in whole or smash a few of them and add them in addition to remaining whole chilies. Suit your own personal tastes with the heat level.
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