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STRING BEANS AND PORK SHREDS (sijidou chao rousi)
This is the kind of plain meat and vegetable dish that Mrs. Chiang's mother served her family for dinner almost every day. The proportions of meat and vegetable would vary in accordance with the availability of meat at the time. Mrs, Chiang's version probably uses more meat than the original did, but it is still a simple and unpretentious dish. It calls for only the most minimal of seasonings - just a little soy sauce and sesame oil-and takes no more than 15 minutes to make.
3/4 pound string beans
4 medium pork chops (for a yield of 1 pound meat, approximately)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Wash the string beans, break off the ends, and slice them into shreds.
Cut the meat off the bone and remove the fat. Chop the pork fat into little pieces about the size of grains of uncooked rice and set them aside separately. Slice the lean meat into shreds 2 inches long and 1/8 inch wide, the size and shape of a wooden matchstick, and put them in a small bowl. (It is always easier to cut meat very fine if you first put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until it is stiff but not frozen. )
Clean the scallions, then cut them, all the white part and most of the green, into 2-inch lengths. Slice these into shreds and add them to the pork slivers.
Add the sugar, cornstarch, sesame oil, and soy sauce to the pork shreds and mix thoroughly.
Heat your wok or pan over a high flame for 15 seconds, then add the oil. The oil will be hot enough to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.
When the oil is ready, add the string beans.
Stir-fry them for 45 seconds, using your cooking shovel or spoon in a scooping motion to spread the beans around in the pan. Add the salt and continue to stir-fry the beans for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes longer.
Then remove them from the pan to a serving dish.
Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and reheat it over a high flame for 15 seconds. Pour in the fresh oil, and, when it is ready for cooking, add the diced fat and fry it for about 1 minute, pressing it against the sides of the pan with your cooking shovel or spoon to make sure that most of the fat is rendered.
Combine the water and the meat mixture and mix thoroughly, then add to the pan and stir-fry vigorously for 30 seconds.
Return the partially cooked string beans to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until the pork is thoroughly cooked ( slightly grayish in color and stiff). Don't cook the dish too long, or the beans will wilt and lose their fresh, green color.