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Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce: A Tangy and Spicy Sichuan Delight

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Shredded pork with garlic sauce, or “Yu Xiang Rou Si” (鱼香肉丝) in Mandarin, is a classic dish from Sichuan province, China, renowned for its bold flavors and spicy kick. This dish exemplifies the balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy elements that define Sichuan cuisine, offering a delightful combination of tender shredded pork, aromatic garlic, and a savory sauce that tingles the taste buds. Whether served as a main dish with steamed rice or as part of a larger Chinese meal, shredded pork with garlic sauce promises a flavorful and satisfying culinary experience.

Culinary Heritage and Significance

Originating from the Sichuan province in southwestern China, shredded pork with garlic sauce is a staple in Sichuan cuisine known for its complex flavors and fiery heat. The dish showcases the art of stir-frying thinly sliced pork with a medley of ingredients including garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, all bathed in a sauce that harmonizes soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. This combination creates a dish that is both aromatic and addictive, reflecting the bold and dynamic nature of Sichuan flavors that have captivated food enthusiasts worldwide.

Ingredients

To prepare shredded pork with garlic sauce, gather the following ingredients:

For the Pork Marinade:

  • Pork Tenderloin or Pork Shoulder: 1 lb, thinly sliced into strips
  • Cornstarch: 1 tbsp
  • Soy Sauce: 1 tbsp
  • Shaoxing Rice Wine or Dry Sherry: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp
  • White Pepper: 1/4 tsp

For the Sauce:

  • Chicken Broth: 1/2 cup
  • Soy Sauce: 2 tbsp
  • Rice Vinegar: 2 tbsp
  • Sugar: 1 tbsp
  • Cornstarch: 1 tsp
  • Vegetable Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Garlic: 4 cloves, minced
  • Ginger: 1-inch piece, minced
  • Green Onion: 2 stalks, chopped (separate white and green parts)
  • Dried Red Chili Peppers: 4-6, seeded and cut into halves
  • Sichuan Peppercorns: 1 tsp, toasted and ground (optional, for extra Sichuan flavor)
  • Sesame Oil: 1 tsp

Cooking Instructions

  1. Marinate the Pork:
    • In a bowl, combine the pork strips with cornstarch, soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry), salt, and white pepper. Mix well and let it marinate for at least 15-20 minutes.
  2. Prepare the Sauce:
    • In another bowl, whisk together chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Stir-Fry the Pork:
    • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, minced ginger, and the white parts of chopped green onions. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until fragrant.
    • Add the marinated pork strips to the skillet in a single layer. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until the pork is cooked through and slightly browned.
  4. Add Chili Peppers and Sauce:
    • Add dried red chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns (if using) to the skillet. Stir-fry for another minute to release their flavors.
    • Pour the prepared sauce into the skillet. Stir well to coat the pork and vegetables evenly. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Finish and Serve:
    • Remove the skillet from heat. Drizzle sesame oil over the dish and stir to incorporate.
    • Garnish with the green parts of chopped green onions for added freshness and color.
  6. Serve:
    • Transfer the shredded pork with garlic sauce to a serving dish. Serve hot as a main dish with steamed rice or noodles.

Tips for Perfect Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce

  • Slicing the Pork: For best results, slice the pork thinly against the grain to ensure tenderness.
  • Adjusting Spice Level: Control the heat of the dish by adjusting the amount of dried red chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns according to your preference.
  • Sichuan Peppercorns: Toasting and grinding Sichuan peppercorns enhances their fragrance and numbing effect, characteristic of Sichuan cuisine.

Serving Suggestions

Shredded pork with garlic sauce pairs well with:

  • Steamed Rice: Serve over steamed jasmine rice or brown rice to soak up the flavorful sauce.
  • Stir-Fried Vegetables: Accompany with stir-fried bok choy, broccoli, or snow peas for a balanced meal.
  • Chilled Beer or Tea: Enjoy with a refreshing drink like chilled beer or hot tea to complement the bold flavors.

Conclusion

Shredded pork with garlic sauce captures the essence of Sichuan cuisine with its bold flavors and aromatic ingredients. By following this recipe, you can recreate the authentic taste of this classic dish at home and savor its savory and spicy appeal. Embrace the culinary heritage and complexity of Sichuan flavors with shredded pork with garlic sauce, a dish that promises to bring a taste of Sichuan province to your dining table and delight your taste buds with every bite.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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