Boycott Oil, Full Steam Ahead

One learns to deal with China’s culinary pitfalls, because the rewards are great. Cat meat instead of lamb? Stop buying yangrouchuanr on the street. Newspaper-stuffed baozi? Start having zhou for breakfast. But this latest F&B atrocity defies redemption: oil d’effluent. If you’ve dined out in China with any regularity, then you’ve partaken in meat and/or vegetables fried in a foul rendering of waste tank slop and – stifle your gag reflex – raw sewage.

What to do, when even the very market-bought oil in your home may well have been strained from material best left in the septic tank? You start steaming. And it doesn’t all have to be bok choy and rice. Fenzhengrou, a fragrant, hearty meat-and-potatoes dish from Sichuan province, requires not a drop of oil, and will banish images of ingesting sewage from your thoughts. Not from your nightmares, but hey, we’re trying.

What You’ll Need:

500g pork, on the fatty side (Relax, that soda was much worse for you.)


2 medium size potatoes


Packaged rice powder(mi3 fen3, pictured, looking like police evidence )

Our favorite brands of cooking wine, soy sauce, and pepper corn, in that order. Experiment at your own risk.

1 1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp finely diced fresh ginger

5 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp cooking wine

1/4 tsp pepper corn powder (or black pepper, if pepper corn is banned in your land)


What You’ll Do:


1. Dice potatoes into bite-size cubes, then slice the pork into small, square, pinky-thick pieces.

2. Mix the sugar, ginger, soy sauce, cooking wine, and pepper corn and slather it lovingly over the pork. Let sit for at least half an hour, overnight for maximum flavor sensation.

3. Tenderly bathe your marinated pork in the rice flour until it all has a thick, sticky coating.


4. Layer the bottom of a large bowl with your diced potatoes. Make a top layer with your pork.


5. New to steaming? Fill a large pot with water until it’s two knuckles deep. Put the bowl of pork and potatoes on something to help it stay clear of the water, preferably a little metal stand made just for the job. Once the water is boiling, you’re steaming! Give it a good 40 minutes, and only remove with your hands if you’ve worked in a smithy. Let cool, and enjoy a dish as innocent and oil free as the Barrier Reef, before the Shen Neng 1 rammed into it.

Serves Two

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3 Responses to Boycott Oil, Full Steam Ahead

  1. Chinese cuisine has a long history, and is one of the Chinese cultural treasures. It is famous all over the world. Chinese cookery has developed and matured over the centuries, forming a rich cultural content. It is characterized by fine selection of ingredients, precise processing, particular care to the amount of fire, and substantial nourishment. Local flavors and snacks, and special dishes have formed according to regions, local products, climate, historical factors, and eating habits.

  2. cart says:

    my local sichuan hotpot place makes this dish with pork belly, wu hua rou, i think.

  3. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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