learning chinese cooking from the best: ti pong

I first experienced Ti Pong made by my mother-in-law’s sister, aka Aunt Kathy. The dish is one of her Chinese specialties, but because she lives in Nashville, it’s not something I have the opportunity to eat on a regular basis. I have delicious memories of eating  Aunt Kathy’s Ti Pong during our last two visits to Nashville.  In non-Chinese terms, Ti Pong is meaty, fatty, delectably braised pork shank.  It melts in your mouth and is a truly meaty treat. 

When brainstorming what to cook together for our second installment of Chinese cooking sessions, my mother-in-law mentioned she knew her sister’s secret Ti Pong ingredient. Both my mother-in-law and her sister are incredible cooks, so maybe I was witnessing a hint of sibling rivalry in the kitchen. Regardless of the reason, I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to make this Chinese pork dish.

Ti Pong is relatively simple, but takes time to cook. However, once you get it on the stove, you can walk away and let the flavors meld for hours.

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My kitchen notes: 

Shaoxing and michiu wines are available at Asian grocery stores. They are both common to Chinese cooking and inexpensive, so worth adding to your pantry.

Rock sugar is common in Chinese cooking and can be found in Asian grocery stores.

Ti Pong can be served over rice, or inside buns (bao) as a sort of Chinese sandwich. Buns can be found in the frozen section at most Asian grocery stores.

Ti Pong 

2 1/2 pound bone-in pork shank

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2 tablespoons, plus 3/4 cups shaoxing wine

2 tablespoons, plus 1/3 cup soy sauce

4 pieces star anise, divided

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 slices fresh ginger

3 whole cloves garlic, smashed

1 green onion, white parts only, sliced

1/2 cup michiu rice wine

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Hot water

3 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 piece rock sugar

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 Directions 

1. Wash pork shank and place on a plate or shallow bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine and 2 tablespoons soy sauce onto pork shank. Sprinkle with 2 pieces of star anise, broken into pieces. Set aside and let marinade for a minimum of 1 hour, up to 5 hours.

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2.  In a heavy pot that will fit the pork shank with enough room for liquid, add 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add 3 smashed garlic cloves, 2 slices of fresh ginger and sliced green onion to pot and saute for 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

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3. Add 2 remaining pieces of whole star anise, then pork shank to pot. Brown pork shank on all sides, turning on each side with tongs, about 3 minutes on each side.

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4. After pork shank is browned, add 3/4 cup shaoxing wine and 1/2 cup michiu wine to pot. Add enough hot water to cover pork shank 3/4 of the way to the top of the pot. Cover pot and turn heat to medium and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

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4. Check periodically. If liquid level evaporates, add more hot water to bring level to 3/4 of the way to the top of the pot.

5. After about 1 1/2 hours, uncover and pour 3 tablespoons oyster sauce and 1/3 cup soy sauce over pork shank. Add 1 piece of rock sugar to the liquid. Cover and continue to simmer for 3-4 hours.

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6. After approximately 3-4 hours, remove pork shank from pot. Liquid from pot should be thick, dark and tar-like. Total cooking time should be between 4-5 1/2 hours. Pour liquid over pork shank and serve over rice or with buns.

 

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