Two of the most precious Chinese cooking appliances has to be my 15-years old well-seasoned carbon steel wok and a 10-years old clay pot. Lately, I have been using my clay pot more than usual due to the cold winter weather and my pure lazily. It doesn’t require much effort to slow-cooked the food inside a clay pot, and it retains the heat exceptionally well even after the food is cooked.
In a previous post, I have explained the nature of cooking in a clay pot and shared a recipe cooking rice and chicken as the base ingredients.
Today’s recipe is using pork loin and fried firm tofu (bean curd) as our base ingredients. You can buy different types of tofu at an Asian supermarket. For source and flavour, you need the basic Chinese ingredients – garlic and ginger, and soy sauce.
For this recipe, I am using the below ingredients.
- pork loin
- fried firm tofu – 2 pieces
- fresh shiitake mushrooms – 4 pieces (alternately, you can use the dried ones but you will need to presoak in hot water to soften the mushrooms)
- carrot – 1
- celery sticks – 2
- bamboo shoots – 1 cup
- garlic – 4 cloves
- ginger – a thumb-size approximately 2-3 inches
- red chilli – 1
For sauces, I am using:
- 1 tablespoon brown bean paste “tau cheong”
- 1/2 tablespoon light soy
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- Cut the pork loin into small, thin slices. Then marinate with 1 tablespoon light soy, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1 teaspoon starch and 1 egg. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours
- Cut the fried firm tofu into small triangles or any shape that you desire. You can also use firm tofu and pan-fry them yourself
- Cut the mushrooms, carrots, celery, bamboo shoots into small bite pieces
- Chop the garlic finely
- Cut the ginger in thin slices, julienne
- Slice the chilli diagonally in thin slices
- Soak the clay pot in warm tap water for 30 minutes prior to cooking
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the clay pot on medium heat. It doesn’t take long for the oil to heat up
- Toss in garlic first and fry until it sizzles. Then add the ginger and chilli. Continue to fry until the ingredients soften and you can smell the beautiful aroma. Then add the brown bean paste and mix through with the garlic, ginger and chilli, which are already in the clay pot
- Next, add the marinated pork loin. Add a bit of tap water if it looks like drying up. Do not use icy cold water or it may crack your clay pot. Once the pork is almost cooked, add mushrooms first before adding the remaining ingredients – celery, carrot, tofu, bamboo shoots
- Add the sauces – light soy, dark soy and oyster sauce, with 1/2 cup of water. Then cover the lid and turn the heat down to medium-low or low depending on the clay pot’s size, the intensity of your gas stove and the amount of food inside the clay pot. Let the food gentle simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then add 1 teaspoon starch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water to thicken the sauce. You should not overcook the carrot and celery so they are still a bit crunchy for the texture
- Serve with rice