A simple soup of pork or lamb in broth fortified with root vegetables and simple spices make tung-po a simple yet hearty Chinese meal.
Su Tung Po (sometimes Dong Po) was a poet, writer and gourmand who lived in northern China almost a thousand years ago during the Song dynasty, with this dish attributed to him. Many interpretations are of a braised pork belly entrée with a sweet glaze as the centerpiece of a larger meal but this simpler version is served as a rich, brothy stew.
Over the centuries, tung-po has traveled and changed widely throughout Mandarin China and Mongolia. Muslim influences left out the alcohol and replaced the pork with mutton, of which versions today are often easier to find than the original pork. Any lean pork cut can be used as can a good cut of lamb; likewise, a pork- or lamb-based broth can be substituted as well.
Five-spice powder is a traditional Chinese blend usually consisting of elements of star anise, clove, pepper, fennel and cinnamon (although no standard ingredient list exists, and combinations vary by manufacturer). Most recipes call for a dash of Shaoxing rice wine but a good Western dry sherry works equally well to brighten up the spices right before serving.
The stew is bulked up with any convenient root vegetables and can even be served over cooked rice. Chopped herbs or parsley can be used to finish but take care not to overdo the smooth spiciness of the broth.
Serve with crispy fried wonton strips or a bowl of steamed rice on the side.
1 lb pork
1 russet potato
2 cloves of garlic
1-in. piece of ginger
4 green onions
4 c beef broth
1 t sugar
2 T soy sauce
Chinese five-spice powder
1 Cut the pork and potatoes into cubes and fry first the pork and then the potatoes in oil for about 5 min each. Set both aside.
2 Bring broth to a boil and add the pork, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and spices. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 min.
3 Chop the carrot into coins and the onions into inch-long segments. Add the potatoes and carrots and continue to simmer for 15 min more or until tender.
4 Finish with the green onions and a splash of sherry.