One of the “Four Treasures of Dongpo”: Dongpo Pork
Dongpo Pork, also known as Braised Pork Belly, is a traditional Chinese dish renowned for its exquisite flavors. Its deliciousness not only stems from its unique cooking techniques but also because it carries the deep-rooted cultural heritage and historical traditions of millennia, making it a dish that many aspire to savor. This culinary masterpiece features succulent pieces of pork belly paired with a rich sauce and aromatic seasonings, and it has long been regarded as a representative of Chinese cuisine. Let’s delve into the origins, distinctive qualities, and significant role of Dongpo Pork in Chinese culinary culture.
Dongpo Pork is said to have been created by the Northern Song Dynasty poet Su Shi. Its earliest origins can be traced to Meishan in Sichuan province and is part of the “Four Treasures of Dongpo” cuisine from Xuzhou. Su Shi (1037 – 1101), a prominent literary figure of the Northern Song Dynasty, also known as Su Dongpo, was originally from Sichuan. He was not only a renowned literary figure but also a connoisseur of fine cuisine, skilled in the art of cooking.
So how is Dongpo Pork cooked? There are two statements:
Su Shi lived in poverty when he was demoted to Huangzhou in December of the second year of Yuanfeng (1080). Fortunately, his friend Ma Mengde bought dozens of acres of wasteland in the east of the city for him, and he was able to build a “Dongpo Hall” and settle down there.
However, pork was relatively cheap in Huangzhou at that time, so he imitated the previous method and improved it, using rice wine, rock sugar, and soy sauce to make a sauce, and then slowly braised the pork. The finished product was red in color, thick in sauce, and fragrant in flavor. He wrote a poem titled “Ode to Pork”: “The good pork in Huangzhou is as cheap as dung. The rich refuse to eat it, and the poor don’t know how to cook it. The slow fire and less water. Don’t rush it when it’s cooked, it will be perfect when the heat is sufficient.” This shows that Su Dongpo’s method of cooking meat is wonderful.
Su Shi’s two sentences of “quick-fire fish, slow-fire meat” come from cooking experience. This means that stewed fish needs to be stewed over high heat so that the fish’s meat is tender and tastes great. Pork needs to be simmered over low heat to get the best taste.
In addition, it is said that during the Yuanyou period of the Northern Song Dynasty (about 1090 AD), Su Dongpo served as the governor of Hangzhou and mobilized the people to dredge the West Lake. After the completion of the project, in order to reward the migrant workers, he ordered his family to cook the pork donated by the people according to his experience of “slow fire, use less water, it will be beautiful when the fire is sufficient”, and then add rice wine to entertain the migrant workers; but the family mistakenly cooked the pork with the wine and meat, which produced an unexpected result: the meat stewed in this way is particularly mellow and delicious, with a unique flavor! The incident became a legend and the news spread like wildfire. People praised Su Dongpo’s merits and imitated his cooking techniques. From then on, “Dongpo Pork” became a famous traditional dish in Hangzhou and became famous all over the world.
It is also said that the braised pork cooked by Su Shi in Huangzhou was only influential locally and not very famous nationwide. The braised pork that is really famous and famous all over the country is “Dongpo Pork” when Su Shi was in Hangzhou for the second time.
“Dongpo Pork” mostly uses pork belly: Pork is rich in high-quality protein and essential fatty acids, and provides heme (organic iron) and cysteine that promotes iron absorption, which can improve iron deficiency anemia; It has the effects of nourishing the kidneys, nourishing blood, nourishing yin and moisturizing dryness.
If you want to know how to cook it, please check the link: https://www.dumplingconnection.com/recipes/dongpo-pork-recipe/