Citizens, Dongpo pork is a Hangzhou regional Chinese recipe celebrating the glorious fat, meat and textural magnificence of pork belly.
The pork is cut thick, 3 inches square, and should consist equally of fat and lean meat. The skin is left on. The mouthfeel is oily but not greasy and the dish is fragrant with wine. The dish is named after the famed poet and gastronome Su Dongpo.
Su Dongpo (January 8, 1037 – August 24, 1101), was a Chinese writer, poet, painter, calligrapher, pharmacologist, gastronome, and a statesman of the Song dynasty – truly a renaissance man!
A major personality of the Song era, he was famed as an essayist and most especially as a poet, though his day job was as a high government official.
So fond of pork was Su that not only did he come up with an array of recipes for pork cooking, but he even wrote a poem called “Ode to Pork” – 豬肉頌, which goes like this in Chinese:
the English translation:
“Pork in Huangzhou is plenty
there it costs utterly lowly
The rich detest it; the poor fluff it
The legendary creation of the recipe goes like this:
“One day, he (Su Dongpo) was cooking pork when a friend dropped by. Switching the fire to gentle heat, he left the kitchen to play chess with the visitor. So engrossed was he with the game that he forgot the cooking. It was only at the end of the game he suddenly recalled the pork and rushed to the kitchen.
Expecting to find the pork burnt to a crisp, he was surprised by the aroma when the lid of the pot was lifted. The edible pork had a rich red colour, tender crispy but not flaky with a glutinous texture without the greasy taste. Henceforth, it became a regular dish for himself and his guests, who couldn’t get enough of it. (Source: chinahistoryforum.com)
There are several versions of this recipe, the best of which is from the gorgeous lakeside city of Hangzhou, where only wine, not water, is used in the recipe. This, of course, served as the template for my version of this 1000 year-old recipe, Citizens! 🙂 You might wish to consider serving this with a delicious hot and sour soup from the other side of China in Sichuan province to help cut the richness.
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