Saturday, October 13, 2007

Basic Chinese Meat Sauce

As promised, here's a recipe which incorporates your (hopefully homemade) La Jiao Jiang. Chinese meat sauce is a condiment dish. It's purpose is to help flavor bland starches such as boiled noodles or plain steamed rice. It's also marvelously versatile. This is one of those basic recipes which you can customize to your heart's delight. At the conclusion of this recipe, I'll give you a couple of ideas for future variations.

This dish also keeps really well. Cook it, put it in the fridge and you've got the beginnings of a tasty, fast meal. I usually serve the meat sauce with a freshly stir-fried vegetable.

You will need:
8-10 Dried Shiitake mushrooms
2-3 teaspoons of La Jiao Jiang (or more to taste)
1 lb. ground pork.
3 tablespoons of soy sauce

Put the mushrooms in a bowl and cover with warm water. Soak for about 30 minutes. In case you've never purchased shiitake mushrooms, here's a picture:

While the mushrooms are soaking, mince the shallots. You need one cup of minced shallots.

When the mushrooms are reconstituted, remove them from the water and squeeze out the excess water. Slice the mushrooms. Shiitake mushroom stems are generally tough even after an extended soak so feel free to slice them off.

Here's a picture of my mushrooms and shallots:

Heat up a wok. Add a few tablespoons of oil. Add the minced shallots and La Jiao Jiang. Stir fry until the shallots are soft. Add the mushrooms and pork. Stir fry until the pork is no longer pink. Keep breaking the pork up until most of it is bite sized.

Add two cups of warm water. Add three tablespoons of soy sauce. Allow everything to come to a boil and give it all a good stir. Turn down the heat until the dish is at a mild simmer. Here's a picture of what it should roughly look like at this point:

Keep simmering until the mixture is slightly soupy. At this point, taste for seasoning. Add salt or soy sauce if you think it's necessary. Remember, this dish is intended to flavor rice so it's okay if it's a little bit on the salty side.

You're done! Some future variations might include dried shrimp, hot bean paste, different aromatics such as garlic or a Yunanese variation incorporating cinnamon and star can take this recipe a thousand different directions. I've even had very successful Taiwanese variations which use chopped pork belly. The fatty texture of the meat makes for an extremely luscious dish. Adding some sugar is also fairly common. My mom taught me to always balance salt with sugar but I sometimes willfully disregard her advice. Sorry, Ma!

Final Line:
About an hour. This includes the mushroom soaking time.

Total food cost is somewhere around 3 dollars and it will provide enough for 4-6 people. Extremely economical!


James said...


George said...

delicious A+++ would eat again!!!!