Simple everyday pork

The Chinese word for meat (肉, ròu) implies pork, demonstrating just how how central to Chinese cuisine it is. Pork is enjoyed in all kinds of ways: seasoned and air-cured into tasty bacon, stir-fried as a main dish, barbecued, or ground up and used as a flavoring for other dishes. And in typical Chinese fashion, the whole animal is eaten, from snout to tail. This recipe concentrates just on the tenderloin.

Simple everyday pork

Simple everyday pork

There’s not much more needed in the way of introduction, so we’ll go straight to the recipe. Start with a tenderloin.

This tenderloin was about 1 lb, which is perfect for two or four people, depending on how many other dishes are served at the same time.

This tenderloin was about 1 lb, which is perfect for two or four people, depending on how many other dishes are served.

Slice the tenderloin into thin pieces. Having a very sharp knife helps. Marinate the meat in rice wine.

Sliced pork, marinating in rice wine; stir every few minutes to make sure the meat stays coated

Sliced pork, marinating in Shaoxing rice wine. Stir every few minutes to make sure the meat stays coated.

Assemble a collection of aromatic spices. First chop some garlic and shallots. Then add Tianjin Preserved Vegetable for its umami richness. (For more information about this ingredient, see the essential Chinese pantry.)

Garlic and shallots

Garlic and shallots

Tianjin Preserved Vegetable

Tianjin Preserved Vegetable

Mix the garlic, shallots, and Tianjin Preserved Vegetable with some Sichuan peppercorns and some Lao Gan Ma spicy black bean chili oil.

This smells really delicious! It's garlic, shallots, black bean chile oil, and Tianjin Preserved Vegetable.

This smells really delicious!

The final step is to stir-fry the pork until barely done, then add the aromatics and continue to stir-fry until everything is cooked and delicious. Splash with dark soy sauce and you’re done.


  1. 1 pork tenderloin, which will be between 1 and 1.5 lbs, sliced against the grain into pieces about 1/8″ thick and marinated for 30 minutes in 3 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine and 2 tsp potato flour
  2. 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 shallot, and 1 Tbsp Tianjin Preserved Vegetable (天津冬菜, Tiānjīn dōngcài), all mined finely and stirred together with 1 Tbsp Lao Gan Ma spicy black bean chili oil (老干妈黑豆辣椒油, lǎogànmā hēi dòu làjiāo yóu) and 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  3. 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce


  • Heat your wok until barely smoking. Then add 1 Tbsp peanut oil and swirl it around. Add the pork (#1) and stir-fry until the pink has just disappeared.
  • Next add the aromatics (#2) and stir-fry for another minute or so, until everything is heated through and cooked.
  • Turn off the heat and then splash the dark soy sauce (#3) over the pork and stir. Serve with rice and contrasting dishes.

Variations: Pork is inexpensive in developed nations, such that even a choice cut like the tenderloin is quite affordable. But in the developing world, meat is still pricey. To take this dish back to its peasant roots, prepare some sturdy greens (like chard) and serve them in a 4:1 ratio with the pork. You can put the cooked greens on a plate with the pork piled in the center, or just stir everything together before serving. This is not just economical; it’s also truly delicious.

The essential Chinese pantry is here.

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3 Responses to Simple everyday pork

  1. That does look delicious. I actually think that adding greens would make this taste even better. About the preserved vegetables, I tried adding them to soup once, a long time ago, but I found that they were sort of gritty, almost like there was sand in them. Are you not supposed to rinse first?

  2. TastyAsia says:

    Thanks for the comment! I do think a version with greens really is more to my liking, which is why I’ll elevate that idea to it’s own post soon. Yesterday when I made this recipe, my grocer was closed but the butcher was open, so that’s why I went with meat only. As for grittiness with the preserved vegetable, I’ve encountered that when tasting it raw and I think it was due to undissolved salt crystals. I haven’t seen any grittiness that survives cooking. However, with all Chinese items, as variation is the rule rather than consistency, so you may have run across a formulation or a batch that needs pre-rinsing.

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