Citizens, prepare yourselves for an education with this dish, as it is one of the most confusingly-named you’ll ever find! Shredded pork in hot garlic sauce, also named as Yu Xiang Rou Si(鱼香肉丝), is one of the most outstanding dishes in the entire Chinese recipe canon!
Why is it confusing – well, for one thing, it has very little garlic in it and the correct name of the dish is “fish-fragrant” despite the fact it is never used with seafood or made from anything that swims!
Yuxiang (simplified Chinese: 鱼香; traditional Chinese: 魚香; pinyin: yúxiāng; literally: “fish fragrance”) is a seasoning mixture in Chinese cuisine, and also refers to the resulting sauce in which meat or vegetables are cooked. It is said to have originated in Sichuan cuisine, but has since spread to other regional Chinese cuisines.
On top of the basic mixture, cooking yuxiang almost always includes the use of sugar, vinegar, doubanjiang, soy sauce, and pickled chili peppers.
Proper preparation of the yuxiang seasoning includes finely minced pao la jiao (pickled chili), white scallion, ginger and garlic. They are mixed in more or less equal portions, though some prefer to include more scallions than ginger and garlic. The mixture is then fried in oil till fragrant, then adding water, starch, sugar and vinegar to create the basic sauce.
Despite the term literally meaning “fish fragrance” in Chinese, yuxiang contains no seafood, is typically not used in seafood, but rather for dishes often containing beef, pork, or chicken, as well as vegetarian recipes.
In fact, the late Chinese scholar and chef Barbara Tropp suggests in “The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking” that the characters can also be interpreted as meaning “Sichuan-Hunan” flavor, which TFD agrees with.
Since Chinese pickled peppers are exceedingly hard to find, TFD has used his unique genius to replace them with peppadew peppers! The other hard-to-find ingredients may be found at your local Asian grocer, Amazon or here. The ingredient proportions have of course been adapted to my specific and highly-refined taste.
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