The Chinese word for “pork with garlic sauce” is yuxiang rousi. In spite of the name, which translates to “fish scent” or “fish flavor,” there is no fish in this meal.
This may come as a surprise, but the dish commonly known as “pork with garlic sauce” actually has its roots in traditional Chinese cuisine.
We had a great day in Chengdu sampling a wide variety of authentic Sichuan cuisine, which naturally piqued our interest as food bloggers.
Traditionally, pork, wood ear mushrooms, and celtuce (莴笋, wōsǔn) are the only ingredients needed to make Pork with Garlic Sauce. The stir-fry comes together quickly since all three ingredients are julienned. This is our first dish with celtuce, and if you’re sitting there wondering, “what the heck is celtuce?” I should say that it’s one of our favorite vegetables.
It is grown primarily for its stem, which explains its many common names, including stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, and Chinese lettuce. Celtuce, like lettuce, can be eaten raw and is easily prepared in a stir-fry. The availability of lettuce, a summer crop, has recently increased in the Asian markets of the eastern United States. Julienned bamboo shoots or carrots can stand in if you can’t find them.
Notes on Pork Marinade:
Before we get to the main event, one last piece of advice is to be sure to add water to the pork marinade. Even though it doesn’t “sound right,” it actually makes perfect sense. My previous experience with fillings for dumplings and buns has taught me to always include some sort of liquid, like water, to ensure that the finished product is juicy and flavorful.
I learned the hard way that diluting the pork marinade with water yields the same results. When combined with cornstarch, it allows the pork to retain its natural juices and tenderness. Any of our stir-fry recipes would benefit from this advice about the preparation of meat.
The pork with garlic sauce is a classic dish. The pork and veggies in this traditional Yu Xiang Rou Si Sichuan homestyle dish are coated in a spicy and garlicky sauce made possible by the addition of spicy bean paste. Then get the rice going!
FOR THE PORK & MARINADE:
- 8 ounces of julienned pork
- 1½ tablespoons of water
- 2 teaspoons of oil
- 2 teaspoon of light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of Shaoxing wine
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon of ground white pepper
FOR THE SAUCE:
- 1 cup of water
- 1½ tablespoons of rice vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons of sugar
- 1½ tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
FOR THE REST OF THE DISH:
- 8 ounces of peeled and julienned celtuce (stem lettuce)
- 1 finely chopped scallion
- 1 heaping cup of julienned rehydrated wood ears
- 1/4 cup of dried chili peppers
- 3 tablespoons of oil (divided)
- 1 tablespoon of spicy bean sauce
- 2 teaspoons of minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
- Prepare to begin the meal now! Prepare a clean wok by heating it until it emits a light smoke. This will help prevent the food from sticking (this step is very important). In a wok, heat one tablespoon of oil over high heat.
- Slowly broil the pork until the center is no longer pink. Take the pork from the fire, place it in a dish, and put it aside.
- The method used to cook the pork is rather low-impact, so your wok should still be relatively clean at this point. Nonetheless, if it isn’t, cleaning and drying the wok before proceeding to the next step of cooking is a good idea.
- Set the stove to medium heat. Two tablespoons of oil and the hot bean sauce should be added. Cook, without stirring too much, until the oil turns crimson, approximately a minute. If necessary, reduce the heat so that nothing burns.
- Now, put in the garlic, ginger, and dried chilies. Just give it a little stir for the sake of the next 15 seconds. Toss in the wood ears, crank up the heat, and stir-fry for 30 seconds (you can always add a splash of water if it gets too dry).
- Toss the celtuce, scallion, and fried pork into the wok once the liquid in it has begun to bubble, and then add the sauce combination you prepared earlier. Rapidly stir-fry the ingredients to mix, then serve.