Hakka “Si Wen Si Chao” – Four Braised and Four Stir-fried Dishes (I)

Part 1: Four Braised Dishes

1.     Origin and meaning:

Hakka cuisine reflects not only the life and environment of the Hakka people, but also their frugal habits and hardships. The most classic Hakka dishes are the “Si Wen Si Chao (四炆四炒)” or Four Braised and Four Stir-Fried Dishes. “Wen” in Hakka refers to cooking in a large pot, and “chao” refers to frying in a large wok. The four “wen” or braised dishes are: braised pork belly with pickled vegetables (酸菜炆豬肚), braised pork (炆爌肉), braised pork ribs and radish (排骨炆菜頭), and braised dried bamboo shoots in fatty soup (肥湯炆筍乾). The four “chao” or stir fried dishes are: stir-fried Hakka pork (客家炒肉), chitlins stir fried with ginger (豬腸炒薑絲), duck blood stir fried with chives (鴨血炒韭菜), and pig lung and pineapple stir fried with black fungus (豬肺鳯梨炒木耳).

Hakka “Si Wen Si Chao”

According to Hakka custom, Si Wen Si Chao, the eight standard dishes, are always served during weddings, funerals, and banquets to thank gods. The Hakka people, who usually live a thrifty life, only slaughtered the “three sacrifices” —pig, chicken, and fish —to worship gods during important festivals. To avoid food waste, Hakka people used all parts of the livestock in their dishes. Salty, fragrant, and oily are the three characteristics of the "Four Braised and Four Stir-fried Dishes.” That’s because most of the Hakkas in the early agricultural era had to do farm labor, and in order to increase their appetite and supplement their nutrition and the salt they needed after sweating and working hard in the fields, they cooked using a variety of spicy ingredients and seasonings to create a good color, taste and flavor.

2. Recipes:

1). Pork belly braised with pickled vegetables (also known as pork belly salty vegetable soup)

Ingredients needed:

1 cooked pork belly, 100 grams of  pork shoulder meat, 150 grams of salty vegetables, 50 grams of carrots, 1 section of ginger, 700cc of chicken broth, a little salt, a little sesame oil, a little white pepper

Cooking method:

First, slice the carrots and ginger, cut the salty vegetables into pieces, slice the pork shoulder meat, and cut the pork belly into pieces. Then add the chicken broth to the soup pot, and put in the carrot slices, ginger slices, salty vegetables, pork shoulder slices, and pork belly. Cook until the ingredients are well-done. Add salt, sesame oil and white pepper to the pot before seasoning.

2). Braised Pork (also known as Hakka meat)

Ingredients needed:

200 grams of pork belly, 1,000cc of water, 100cc of golden bean soy sauce, ginger, 1 segment of shallots, 1 segment of green onion, 1 segment of chili pepper, garlic

Cooking method:

After the pork belly is cut into thick strips, boil it for a short time to wash it. Cut the garlic and green onions into small pieces. Cut the chili pepper and ginger into slices and set them aside. (After washing the pork belly, it is recommended that you use a napkin to absorb the water to prevent the water from exploding in the cooking oil in the pan.)

Then use a dry pan to fry each side of the pork belly until it changes color and oozes with fat. Add the garlic, green onions, pepper slices, ginger slices, garlic and sauté with medium heat. Then add all the seasonings and mix them well. Cook with medium heat until the soup comes to a boil. Finally, cover the pot and simmer for about 25 minutes until the meat is fully cooked. Serve with a little soup.

3). Braised pork ribs and radish

Ingredients needed:

1 kg of white radish, 375 grams of pork ribs, a little celery, a little salt

Cooking method:

First wash the radish, peel it and cut it into cubes. Then wash boil the ribs in water for a short time to clean it. Next boil a pot of water, put in the ribs and cook for about 15 minutes. Then add the white radish and cook the ingredients over medium fire for about 30 minutes. Add seasonings and celery before serving.

4). Bamboo shoots braised in fatty soup

Ingredients needed:

300 grams of dried bamboo shoots, 300 grams of fat pork intestines, 600cc of broth, a little celery, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of sugar, 50cc of rice wine

Cooking method:

First cut off the outer casing oil along the intestines with a pair of scissors, and wash the outside of the pig intestines with water, then use chopsticks to poke through the top of the intestines and turn it inside out. Next, put the large intestine into the pot, add a little flour and white vinegar and rub the intestines. Then wash away the flour paste with water and repeat this step until there is no odor at all.

Put the large intestine into boiling water and boil it for about 5 minutes, then soak it in cold water for about 1 hour. Next, put the cooled intestines, dried sliced up bamboo shoots and broth into a pot and boil the mixture. Let it simmer for 1 hour. Finally, add seasoning and mix well. You can add a little celery leaves before serving.