Monday, May 18, 2009

Fried Pork with Black Fungus and Savory Red Sauce - "Hakka style Zha Nguek" 炸肉 zha rou

The dish is sometimes called deep fried pork with red bean sauce known as 炸肉 (pronounced zha2 rou4 in Mandarin and za nguek in Hakka).

It is a must-have dish for special occasions in Hakka (kejia) families.  This is a must-have for birthdays and weddings.

Like most Hakka dishes, it was supposed to be salty but the flavours can be adjusted by the cook to suit different palates.

The main ingredients are quite simple : marbled belly pork (washed and sliced into cubes) and black wood ear fungus (soaked and cut).

Marinate the meat in five spice powder, ginger extract and light soy sauce for at least one hour.

Prepare batter mixture with eggs, flour and a pinch of rice flour. Whip till a thick consistency is formed.

Deep fry the battered meat till golden brown. Drain and set aside.

Prepare sauce for pouring over the meat or dipping : saute garlic till fragrant, then add a dash of wine and fu ru * in chicken stock to simmer.

If you like a more flavoursome and rich sauce, add a little wine (yellow rice wine, huadiao or any cooking wine), oyster sauce and brown sugar.

(Note : "fu ru" 红腐乳 also known as "nan ru" 南乳 commonly described as red fermented soy cheese)
My aunt who lived with my grandparents used to cook this dish for every festive meal or birthday celebrations.

Many thanks to my friend's mother's network of friends who provided inputs for the above recipe.

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