A Classical Chinese Technique
Soy Sauce and Shaoxing Wine the Key
“Red-cooking is the typical family cooking.” — Buwei Yang Chao
Red-Cooking is slow cooking with Soy Sauce. Here’s an exam;ple of the basic Chinese cooking technique called Hong Shao 红烧 or Red Cooking.
It’s called Red-Cooking because of the Soy Sauce, which imparts a rich flavor and a reddish-brown color.
Red-Cooking is used for a number of Meats, Fish and Vegetables, including Pork Shoulder, which is a good choice for this method.
The resulting dish is succulent, tasty and extremely tender. You will sometimes run into it at Chinese banquets or, more commonly, private homes, but not in restaurants, where Red-Cooked dishes seldom appear on the menus. These are home-cooked dishes, and the ultimate in slow cooking.
Red Cooked Pork Shoulder
1 whole Pork Shoulder, 5 – 6 pounds
¼ cup Chinese Shaoxing Wine
6 slices fresh Ginger
1½ cups thin Chinese Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Sugar, preferably Rock Sugar
Buy a whole Pork Shoulder of 5 to 6 pounds, with the bone in and skin left on. Wash the Pork, then made a few slashes with a knife on the meat — not the skin — side, so that the sauce can penetrate more easily.
Put the Pork in a medium size heavy pan, and add water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil over high heat, then skim off all the scum.
Add ¼ cup Chinese Shaoxing Wine and 6 to 8 thin slices of fresh Ginger. Cover, tuen the heat to low and simmer for an hour.
Drain off a third of the liquid, and add to the pot 1½ cups of Chinese Soy Sauce. Simmer, covered, on low heat for about another 1½ hours.
Then add 1/3 cup Sugar – preferably crystallized Rock Sugar, which gives the skin a better glaze.
Cook this another 30 minutes, basting the skin continuously with the sauce. Test for tenderness: If a skewer or chopstick penetrates easily, the meat is done. If not, cook a little longer.
Finally, remove the bones. Put the meat and sauce in a deep bowl. Serve the Pork thinly sliced, with the sauce. This would serve 8 to 10 people in a Chinese dinner with other dishes, but leftover Pork is also delicious cold.