A classic Sichuan stir-fry, the complex flavors in this dish are guaranteed to make your mouth water! This dish is easily customizable, so don’t be intimidated by the ingredients if you can’t find them!
What’s up y’all, I am super excited to be sharing one of my FAVORITE Chinese dishes. This dish has everything you could want; silky tender pork, soft yet crunchy veggies, and an amazingly complex sweet-sour-salty-spicy garlicky sauce. Let’s get the hell started (and peep that cute ass rice bowl).
Sichuan, not Szechuan!
The three most prominent flavor profiles to come out of Sichuan cuisine are ma la (麻辣), yu xiang (鱼香), and guai wei (怪味). If you’re familiar with the cuisine, you’re probably familiar with the first one. Ma la literally translates to ‘numb and spicy’, characterized by dishes with dried chilies, hot chili oil, and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns peppered (Hah, get it?) throughout.
While chilies and peppercorns are extremely important in Sichuan cuisine, it’s much more than that. It’s about combining flavors–sweet, spicy, sour, bitter–to create an intense and complex depth of flavor. That’s where the other two flavors come in!
Yu xiang translates to ‘fish fragrant’, however this dish contains no seafood. Instead, it imitates the seasoning and cooking methods that the Sichuanese use to cook fish. So yu xiang rou si literally means ‘fish fragrant meat slices’. So appetizing, right?
Guaiwei literally means ‘strange taste’. It consists of ingredients such as sesame (oil, paste, seeds), black vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chilies, etc. It’s kind of like a combination of yu xiang and ma la. There’s a lot of other flavor profiles such as koushui (口水味), suanni (蒜泥味), chenpi (陈皮味), etc. but it’d take me a million posts to go through all of them.
What is wood ear and celtuce?
The ingredient list below might intimidate you a bit if you’re not familiar with Asian cuisine. If you have a Chinese grocery store nearby you these ingredients are easily attainable. And if you can’t find them, you can always substitute or omit them!
Celtuce a.k.a. Chinese lettuce
(If you can’t find any, use bamboo shoots instead! Sliced, canned bamboo shoots are easy to find.)
Celtuce, known as wosun (莴笋) in Chinese. It’s one of those things you see in your local Chinese grocery store that makes you wonder if we’re just creating new vegetables from thin air. It’s actually one of the easiest things to cook with, and it tastes amazing too.
Celtuce is grown for its stem (the thing I’m holding up in the above picture) and while it looks tough and hard to handle, the outer layer comes off easily with a knife or peeler. It’s also edible raw! The taste is a cross between water chestnuts, celery, and lettuce.
Wood ear mushrooms
Wood ear goes by a million different names, tree ear, tree jellyfish, Judas’s ear, etc. It’s used a lot in Chinese medicine and herbal soups, and in Chinese dishes such as this one. You usually get them dried soak them in hot water to hydrate them.
Beware that they expand a LOT after you soak them in water. If you can’t find these that’s okay, just omit them. They do give a nice crunch to the dish though, and the color contrast is really nice.
One thing about this recipe is that the key ingredient is doubanjiang (豆瓣酱) or broad bean paste. If you’re not using Pixian doubanjiang then it’s really not authentic Sichuanese cuisine. There’s not substitute for this particular paste, however it is a bit of a specialty item and hard to find. That’s okay though, you can enjoy things without them being what they originally are supposed to be.
If you need to omit something in this, go ahead and do so it’s not the end of the world. I recommend adding vegetables such as bell peppers, baby corn, etc. that have texture. Onto the recipe!
Sichuan Shredded Pork (鱼香肉丝 Yu Xiang Rou Si)
- 550 g pork tenderloin ~1lb, julienned*
- 3~4 dried chilies
- 3~4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp ginger minced
- 1/2 large carrot peeled, julienned
- A handful of dried wood ear mushrooms (Makes about 1 cup hydrated), julienned (can omit if necessary)
- 2 stalks celtuce peeled, ends removed, julienned (can sub for bamboo shoots)
- 2~3 stalks green onion
For the marinade
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
For the sauce
- 1~2 tbsp spicy bean paste** (doubanjiang 豆瓣酱)
- 2~3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp black vinegar can sub for rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or sugar
- 1~2 tsp cornstarch if needed
- Marinade pork in the corn starch, soy sauce, and wine for at least 15 min (an hour if you can).
- Heat up a wok or large skillet. Add oil and then add pork. Cook on each side til browned, then set aside.
- Add more oil to the wok, then add bean paste and dried chilies. Fry for about 30 seconds.
- Add garlic, ginger, carrots, and wood ear. Stir well and let soften, cook for about 3 min on medium high.
- Add the celtuce and green onion. Then all the rest of the ingredients for the sauce except for the cornstarch.
- Add the pork back in. If the sauce is very liquid and does not stick well to the ingredients, mix the cornstarch with some cold water and add to the pan. Stir until the sauce has thickened.
If you make this then comment below or use the hashtag #izzypreps on Instagram. I’ll make some pasta and shout your name at it.