Fish Fragrance Pork has has existed since the first Sichuan opened in 1986 Stillorgan. It has to be one of the favorite dishes that we serve at China Sichuan, and certainly one of our longest running. Although Fish Fragrance pork (in Chinese Yu Xiang Rou) is one of the famous dishes from Sichuan, back in the 1960s, there was no Sichuanese food in Ireland. In fact, when we put it on the menu, Fish Fragrance pork may have been the first Sichuan dish to be introduced to these shores.
Yu Xiang means “fish fragrance” in Mandarin, and it is not named thus because the sauce itself contains fish, but because it is reminiscent of sauces that are served with seafood. Legend has it that a Sichuan fisherman came home one day without his usual daily catch, and so his wife took the sauce that she had prepared for the evening meal, and poured it over some meat she had lying around.
Originally, this was called “Pork in Garlic Sauce,” and it was so popular it virtually flew off the menu. Then we changed the name to the more literal “Fish Fragrance Pork” to reflect our commitment to Chinese authenticity. Boy, was that a mistake. No one ordered it, and our guests complained that there was no more pork in garlic sauce. We changed the name back to Garlic Sauce, and fast.
Nowadays, of course, everyone recognises and loves Fish Fragrance Pork.
China Sichuan’s Fish Fragrance Pork
Note: in the restaurant we use our own pepper condiment, that we let sit in the refrigerator for three weeks. At home, we suggest you blend with a food processor or immersion blender and it should be ready to use in thirty minutes. Otherwise, feel free to substitute a Chinese chili garlic sauce, such as Lee Kum Kee.
- Bell Pepper 500g
- Sweet Red Pepper 500g
- 2 red chilli peppers
- Salt 60g
- Ginger 25g
- Garlic 25g
- Vodka 10ml
Prepare, deseed, and finely chop peppers. Place in a clean bowl and add the salt and vodka. Wrap with cling film and leave to stand in the fridge for 3 weeks. (Alternatively, blitz with an immersion blender/food processor until smooth, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for two months.)
- 200 g pork steak
- 1 egg
- 15g corn flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp water
- 75 ml vegetable oil
- 10g finely chopped ginger
- 10g finely chopped garlic
- 15g “fish fragrance hot pepper sauce” or chili garlic sauce such as Lee Kum Kee
- 15g granulated sugar
- 10g or 2xTbsp Sichuan vinegar(or substitute balsamic vinegar)
- 10g or 2xTbsp dark soya sauce
- 5g or 1xTbsp Shaoxing wine (or sherry)
- 50g chopped scallion
- 5g corn flour mixed with 5 Tbsp water
1. Take the pork and cut it into thin slices. Then cut the slices into very thin shreds.
2. Place the pork shreds in a bowl with the marinade and mix thoroughly. Marinate the pork for no longer than five minutes.
3. Heat a wok (or a heavy bottomed pan) on high heat and pour in approximately 75ml/5 tbsp of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, (you can tell as the oil will start to smoke), add the pork and stir fry quickly for around 30 – 45 seconds, until the pork turns white in colour.
4. Transfer pork into a dish and set aside.
5. Turn heat down to medium-high, and add the ginger, garlic and Sichuan chili garlic sauce. Stir-fry until the oil turns red and you can smell the garlic and ginger.
6. Add pork back into the wok/pan.
7. Add the sugar, vinegar, soya sauce, and wine and stir-fry for a further minute.
8. Finally add the scallions and cornstarch mixture. Stir-fry for another 10 seconds and serve onto a serving dish, with some steamed rice.