The wok has many uses. Since Chinese homes don't have ovens, cooks learned to use the wok and its lid as an oven and a smoker. The Hunan Chinese especially took to this method; their cuisine is known for its inclusion of smoked meats such as duck and pork. The smoking mixture of sugar and tea leaves provides the smoky flavor, while the rice provides the fuel for the smoke. Once smoked, the pork is stir-fried with cabbage in a mild spicy sauce.
Recipe courtesy of Martin Yan
Episode: Dinner to a Tea
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1 hr
15 min
45 min
4 servings


Smoking mixture:


Place the pork in a 2-quart saucepan, add the water, ginger, green onions, sugar, and salt, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the liquid is simmering, cover the pot, and simmer until the pork is almost cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the pork and set aside.

Line the inside of a wok and the inside of its lid with aluminum foil. Make the smoking mixture: Stir the tea leaves, rice, sugar, and star anise together in the lined wok, then spread evenly over the bottom. Set a round rack over the smoking mixture, about 3 inches above the mixture, and set the pork on the center of the rack.

Place the wok, uncovered, over high heat. When the rice mixture begins to smoke, cover the wok, reduce the heat to medium, and smoke until the pork turns a rich, deep brown, about 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes before removing the lid.

Let the pork cool briefly, then cut into1/8-inch-thick slices. (Discard the smoking mixture and foil.) Clean the wok and heat it over high heat until hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat the sides. Add the garlic, ginger and chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pork, cabbage, carrot, and bamboo shoots and stir-fry until the cabbage is wilted, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock, soy sauce and chile garlic sauce and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering, cover the wok, and simmer until the carrot is tender, about 3 minutes.

Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Stir in the sesame oil, scoop onto a warm serving platter and serve hot.

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