I don’t think I’ve found a proper Taiwanese fried pork chop in London – the closest thing I’ve come across was named a Shanghai style pork chop and was served at Leong’s Legends in Chinatown. Imagine a tender, fried, savoury, seasoned pork chop with a thin layer of batter (more like a crust). Now imagine it paired with a bowl of piping hot noodle soup or on white rice with pickled vegetables on the side. Mmmmm…that’s a Taiwanese fried pork chop! The seasoning is mostly from Chinese five spice and the crust is usually of cornstarch or sweet potato starch.
The other week, though, I stopped to wonder why I kept looking for it all over London and why I didn’t just try to cook it myself. I mean, I can buy pork, I can try frying (I must thank Blai’s mother for giving me a little more confidence in that area) and I’m sure a recipe can now be found on the Internet. Sure enough, I did find one with pretty good reviews on Allrecipes. That poor recipe went through a little tinkering: I didn’t feel like frying a whole pork chop and so substituted slices of pork tenderloin; there’d be more surface area for more marinade and crust and by using thinner slices, I could use less oil during the frying. Actually, the frying step was fine – the oil hardly sputtered and I never needed to top it up.
What resulted from the recipe below were extremely tender thin slices of wonderfully marinated pork that I served on rice with some garlicky spinach. It was all delicious and we made very short work of the pork! The pork chop with rice is also a typical Taiwanese style box lunch, which is also something I wish to replicate one day – I just need the soy sauce boiled egg, the pickles, and the thin layer of minced pork sauce between the rice and fried pork chop. A plain noodle soup can also be served alongside but the pork should be served separately to remain crisp. And while not traditional, I can imagine the fried meat would be amazing in a sandwich, similar to the pork chop bun from Macau.
Anyway, though the flavour was spot on and I think it was pretty good for a first attempt, I didn’t exactly get the crust exactly as I like it. Does anyone have any tips to get the crust more like that of my favourite fried pork chop in Vancouver? It should be extremely light and very crisp…perhaps through the use of sweet potato flour?
Taiwanese Style Fried Pork Tenderloin
adapted from an Allrecipes recipe
1 pork tenderloin, about 350-400g in weight
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic, from about 2 cloves
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1/2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
vegetable oil for frying
Slice the pork tenderloin into 1 cm slices, making sure to cut against the grain. With a meat mallet, give each slice a couple of smacks on each side to rough up the meat to soak up the marinade and to make it a little flatter. In a medium-large ziploc bag, mix the soy sauce, garlic, sugar, rice wine and five spice powder and add all the pork pieces. Remove as much air from the bag as possible, zip it up, and then massage the marinade into the pork pieces. Refrigerate for at least an hour, massaging and turning the bag over once in a while.
When you’re ready to fry, heat a frying pan over medium heat and add enough oil until you have a 1/2 to 1 cm layer. Fill a small shallow bowl with cornstarch. Without wiping off the marinade, dredge both sides of each piece of pork with cornstarch and shake off the excess. Fry the pieces of pork for about 2-3 minutes each side, until the coating is golden brown and the pork cooked through. Fry a few pieces at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pan – about 4-5 batches ought to cover all the pork you’ll have. Drain the cooked pork on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve immediately.