The foundation of flavor

Here’s my recipe for the flavor I add to many Chinese dishes. It’s classic, considered a very basic recipe, and because it’s so versatile you’ll find yourself using it for all sorts of dishes. When I was growing up, this was the main meat we had on the dinner table. Somehow, my mother (who also kept a full-time job) would make a couple additional dishes (perhaps a steamed fish, or an eggplant stirfry, or other stir-fried greens) every night to round out the meal.

Ingredients: (for a 3-4 person meal)

1 lb ground pork – use better quality – it makes a huge difference in taste and nutrition

3 scallions, chopped into 1/2 cm pieces

1 tsp corn starch

1 T (thereabouts – a few thin rounds from a bottle) soy sauce

1 pinch salt

1 T grated ginger (I use squeeze tubes of stir-in paste to speed things up)

1 drizzle pure roasted sesame oil

Mix everything together well. Refrigerate until use.

Dishes to add this to:

  1. I brown this mixture in a hot wok then remove it, leaving the juicy stuff behind. Some finely chopped curly kale (1-2 bunches’ worth) then goes in with a pinch of salt and more chopped scallions to wilt. I then add the pork back in and mix everything together, allowing it all to mingle and steam together for a bit before serving on rice with sprinkles.
  2. Same thing as above, but instead of kale, you can use green beans (steam-saute till fork tender) and add some sambal oelek for spicy heat.
  3. Stuff cored bitter melon halves with this pork mixture and simmer in broth until it’s all cooked through.
  4. Brown, then individually cook tofu (browning in the wok with some soy sauce and salt), veggies (bok choy, sliced carrots, sugar snap peas, baby corn, broccoli are all good choices) before mixing all together with some additional chopped scallions and soy sauce/sesame oil to taste.
  5. Form into balls and simmer with napa cabbage in broth to make a classic Chinese dish: “lion’s head meatballs.”
  6. Use this mixture for dumpling filling or bao-tze filling. Add some finely chopped cabbage if you’d like.

As you can see, it’s incredibly versatile. Feel free to add or subtract according to taste. Make it yours.



2 thoughts on “The foundation of flavor

  1. Oops – I don’t see kale in the list of ingredients but it’s lower down in the recipe – how much do you use? Sounds super yummy!!


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