[Exploring China] Thousand-year-old Dongpo Pork: No drop of water, lingering fragrant memories of Jiangnan

This article is reprinted from: China News Network

Author Guo Qiyu

“Clean the pan, use less water, and the flames of firewood can’t stand. Wait for him. Don’t rush him when he is cooked, he will be beautiful when the heat is enough.” Su Shi, a great writer in the Northern Song Dynasty, described in “Pork Ode”, which is probably the prototype of Dongpo Pork.

The purple sand small cup is covered in a bowl, with cube-like meat in the color of agate.

According to legend, when Su Shi was the prefect of Hangzhou, he built bridges and embankments to solve the flood disaster in the West Lake, and the people expressed their gratitude for sending pigs and wine. Su Shi then instructed his family to cut the meat into pieces, cook it with wine, and then give it back to the people.

Through thousands of years, the people of Hangzhou still continue this cooking method.

“Dongpo Pork is made with fat and thin pork belly, cooked with rice wine and soy sauce locally brewed in Zhejiang, without adding a drop of water.” Chinese cooking master, Executive Chef of Xinxin Hotel, Hangzhou Chen Jianjun said that it takes at least two hours to cook a Dongpo Pork through the steps of searing, boiling, stewing, simmering, and steaming.

The slow-cooked Dongpo pork is crispy but not broken, fragrant and glutinous but not greasy. The mouth is chewed carefully, the aroma of the wine blends with the juicy meat, and it overflows with a different back aroma.

In order to ensure the quality and taste, Hangzhou Xinxin Hotel only limited supply of 60 squares of Dongpo meat every day. This century-old shop opened in 1913 was originally a hotel. Shima, Hu Shi, American philosopher John Dewey, Japanese writer Akutagawa Ryunosuke and many other dignitaries. A piece of Dongpo meat travels through history, leaving the fragrance between the lips and teeth.

Facing the picturesque West Lake and backing the Liuxia Gem Mountain. In front of the huge floor-to-ceiling windows of Xinxin Hotel, Ms. Zhao, a citizen of Hangzhou, tasted Dongpo Pork surrounded by lakes and mountains, as if returning to the ancient south of the misty rain.

“Xinxin Hotel is surrounded by mountains and rivers, and has a unique humanistic experience. We can only reserve a seat in advance.” Ms. Zhao told reporters that the Dongpo pork in Xinxin Hotel retains the old-fashioned Hangzhou flavor. At the same time, it is innovatively matched with steamed bread, cucumber slices and other side dishes to relieve tiredness, which is more popular with contemporary people.

As time goes by, Dongpo Meat has also appeared on the stage of state banquets several times.

On the night of the founding ceremony of October 1, 1949, the Beijing Hotel hosted the “first banquet for the founding of the People’s Republic of China”. Zheng Lianfu, the banquet director of the Beijing Hotel at the time, said that Dongpo Pork was among the six hot dishes at the state banquet at that time.

At the G20 Hangzhou Summit held in 2016, Hangbang cuisine became the protagonist of the state banquet, and one of the dishes, “Dongpo Steak”, was a combination of Chinese and Western cuisine.

“Dongpo steak is inspired by Dongpo meat, but the traditional Dongpo meat is pork, and it needs to be stewed with wine.” Chinese cooking master, G20 Hangzhou summit welcome dinner Designer Zhu Qijin said, “In order to fully take care of the taste and health of leaders of various countries, we use beef instead of pork, and use relevant vegetarian dishes to extract the flavor of the original seasonings, and we still draw on the practice of Dongpo meat in the production process.”

After more than a year of continuous adjustment by the chef team of Zhejiang Xizi Hotel, a Dongpo steak without traditional ingredients such as sugar, wine, onion, ginger and garlic presents the same bright oily color and luster as Laodizi Dongpo meat. Sweet and soft taste.

In Zhu Qijin’s view, this is a “delicious delicacy intertwined with history and reality”, and it is also an innovation that transcends history.

Chen Jianbin, an overseas Chinese who has opened a Chinese restaurant in Paris, France since 2004, brought Dongpo Pork to France after attending an overseas Chinese cooking skills training course in Zhejiang Province. “A simple braised pork, once it has a cultural background, will have a different taste. Not only does the price sell, but there are stories to tell. This is the charm of Chinese food culture.”

Chen Jianbin He said that he combined the production method of domestic Dongpo meat with local French dishes.

Thousands of years ago, in the land of fish and rice in the south of the Yangtze River, every household smoked from cooking and fragrantly fragrant meat. Thousands of years later, in Zhejiang, the hometown of overseas Chinese, Dongpo Meat has gone to all corners of the world with 2 million overseas Chinese with a story of thousands of years.