I grew up eating Hunan food at a local Chinese place in Garwood, New Jersey. It was so much better than the traditional Cantonese food most places served. So you can imagine how happy I was to get a copy of Fuschia Dunlop’s Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province from my friend Garrett at Vanilla Garlic.
This is, apparently, a signature dish in Hunan. It is traditionally done with pork belly, and it is called Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork. Nice. I like the idea of modifying a favorite dish of a Chinese communist dictator to a wild game recipe — I am pretty sure that if the Chinese ever invaded, it’d be the hunters who resisted the longest.
You can of course do this with pork belly, but reduce the cooking time to a total of about 90 minutes to 2 hours. Wild boar is tougher. But the aromatic broth you bathe it in make this an ideal recipe for gnarly wild boar parts, especially the shank. Shoulder would be good here, too.
Serve this with a green vegetable and some simple steamed white rice.
- 2 pounds pork or wild boar – tough cuts, like shoulder or shank
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
- A 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced thin
- 2 star anise pods
- 4 dried hot chiles
- 1 small piece of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 5 scallions
- 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled but whole
- Oil for frying
- Find a pot with a lid that is just about big enough to hold the pork or wild boar.
- Heat the oil and sugar over medium heat until the sugar melts and begins to turn brown, about 10 minutes or so.
- Add the wild boar and turn to coat with the sugar-oil mixture. Add the Chinese cooking wine and stir.
- Pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the meat, and add the star anise, ginger, chiles and cinnamon. Cover and simmer gently over medium-to-low heat. How long? Until the meat is tender. For a wild boar shank this could take up to 4 hours.
- Check after 2 hours. Taste the stock and if it is getting too strong, remove some of the spices.
- Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a small pot to be able to deep-fry the garlic cloves. Heat that oil over medium-high until a bit of flour sizzles immediately. Fry the garlic for just a few minutes, until it starts to color. Do not let it burn, or really even brown too much. Just a little color. Set the garlic aside.
- Once the meat is getting tender – but not quite ready – add the soy sauce and taste the stock. Add a little sugar if you want. The stock should be a little sweet. Recover and cook until the pork is practically falling off the bone.
- Take the meat out. Turn the heat up on the sauce to reduce it.
- Chop the pork into large-ish pieces, roughly 2 inches across.
- When the stock has reduced to a sauce consistency, return the meat to the pot and add the garlic.
- Slice the scallions into roughly 1-inch pieces and add them to the pot.
- Serve with simple steamed rice.