Suzhou stewed meat noodles are the most representative flavor of the Jiangnan noodle dishes. It is widely thought that Suzhou Stewed Meat Noodles originated back in the 1930’s when it appeared in two or three local restaurants in Suzhou. They gradually gained popularity.
The method for making Suzhou Stewed Meat is not simple and has been perfected over a long time similar to the Braised Pork Belly or Dongpo meat tradition.
Stewed meat noodles are delicious, a winner among thousands with its distinct and full flavored stewed meat and mellow soup. I could go on forever about how good it tastes, but I better get on with showing you how to make it yourself.
Ingredients for Suzhou Stewed Meat:
- Pork Stock (8 servings):
- 750 g pork leg bone, preferably the shin or ‘shank’. Do not use the spine or rib bones
- 2 x pig trotters, about 1 kg
- 500 g chicken wing tips
- 20 g ginger, cut into thin slices
- 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- 6 cloves garlic, do not peel
- 1 x onion, about 125g, peeled and cut in four lengthwise
Stewed meat (8 servings):
- 1 kg streaky pork, whole, ideally approximately 20-24 cm x 10-12 cm, the length being across the pig waist.
75 g brown sugar
- Brown sugar and white sugar have the same nutritional value, but the flavor of brown sugar is more mellow.
75 g salt
- 1.5 L water
- 1.2 L pig bone stock
- 120 ml dark soy sauce
- 30 g green onions
- 10 g ginger
- 2 star anise
- 1 x 1 cm piece cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cardamom pod
- 40 g brown sugar
Sugar Heart Egg (4 servings):
- 4 eggs
- 100 ml light soy sauce
- 15 g brown sugar
- 300 ml pure water
Stewed Meat Noodles (2 servings):
- 250 g spaghetti noodles
- 400 ml pig bone stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 6 pieces stew meat
- 5 g onion
- 2 Sugar Heart Eggs
Make the Pig Bone Stock
Prepare the pork leg bones in advance. You can have your butcher chop them into 6-7 small pieces, or you can just grab your trusty hacksaw and do it yourself. The right size blade is important so you don’t make a mess of the bone, or wear yourself out sawing too long.
Either an 18 tooth or 24 tooth hacksaw blade will get the job done easy and well.
With a sharp knife cut the two trotters into 6-7 cm small sections. You can, of course, have your butcher do this for you as well.
Fill a soup pot with a volume of at least 5 liters. Rinse the pig leg bones, trotters and chicken wings and soak for 2 hours, changing the water every half hour.
The purpose of soaking the bones is to remove the hemoglobin and myoglobin producing a nice light brown stock.
After soaking the bones, drain and refill with fresh water. Cover and bring to the boil.
When the water is boiling, remove the lid and continue to cook uncovered for 10 minutes. During this time, you will notice the residual hemoglobin and myoglobin form a foam on the surface.
Put the cooked pig bone, trotters and chicken wings into a colander and rinse with water, rubbing any dark bits off the bones.
Put the clean pig bone, trotters and chicken wings back into the soup pot and add enough water to cover well. Then add ginger, white peppercorns, 4 bay leaves, garlic with the skin on and the onion quarters. Cover and bring to the boil and turn down to low with the lid slightly ajar to ensure the liquid stays at a gentle simmer (the rate of 3-4 bubbles rising from the bottom is what you want).
You can put a chopstick across the top of the saucepan under the lid, so you leave a small gap. Simmer for eight hours. This will give you a clear stock, but if you prefer a milky looking stock, increase the stove heat to high and keep up a rolling boil.
While the stock is cooking, prepare the meat for stewing. Good stewing pork will have a soft skin, smoothly textured fat and soft meat that is neither hard nor dry. The first two steps are quite easy to do, it is the last stage that is the real challenge. Lean meat can become tough easily if not cooked correctly. The muscle fibers shrink, and the internal moisture oozes out like toothpaste. To combat this, low-temperature cooking is required, for pork, at 65-70 degrees Celsius for 36 hours.
Although this will give you good results, low temperature cooking needs thermostatically controlled water bath equipment, which is simply not practical in the ordinary family kitchen. Another simple way to get the same result is to reduce the surface area of the pork, in other words, use large pieces of pork, so that the exterior muscle fiber surface area is small, making it easier to maintain the internal moisture. Hence the reason for a whole 1 kg piece of pork.
Salt can also improve the muscle fibers’ water retention capacity by reacting with the protein. So, before stewing the pork must first be pickled. In a bowl, mix 75 g of salt and 75 g of brown sugar and dissolve in the 1.5 L of water.
Submerge the pork skin in this solution, cover and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight.
Back to the pig bone stock. After it is cooked remove the pig bones, trotters and chicken wings and filter the liquid to remove any residue. To get a nice clear result, use a sieve lined with coffee filter paper. The liquid must still be hot when filtering otherwise the collagen will condense leaving a greasy residue on the filter paper.
Divide the stock into two lots, 1.2 L for the stew, the remainder for the soup.
Why bother using soup stock to make the stew? The stock is the secret to the amazing flavor of Suzhou Stewed Meat. By adding the stock to the stew, rather than plain water, there is a two-way exchange so that any flavor lost from the meat while cooking is retained in the stock.
The collagen and spices in the stock also penetrate the meat.
Pour 1.2 liters of pig bone stock into a large saucepan and add dark soy sauce, green onions, star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom and brown sugar. Bring to the boil and reduce to low.
Put the marinated pork into the saucepan so that it is completely covered with liquid. Simmer on low for 5 hours.
Check the water temperature does not exceed 90 degrees Celsius; the water should look relatively calm, with two or three bubbles emerging occasionally.
Remove the pot from the stove, cover and cool to room temperature. Take out the meat, scrape off excess soup and wrap tight in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours. The meat should be very tender and this will make clean slicing difficult. To overcome this, freeze to harden it up and then slice.
Make the Sugar Heart steamed eggs. Pour 1.5 liters of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down to low and with a slotted spoon, place the eggs into the water, to sit on the bottom of the saucepan. Start timing. A 50g egg needs 11 minutes, 60 g needs 12 minutes.
When the time is up, dunk the eggs into a bowl of cold water, wait 5 minutes and peel. It is easiest to peel the eggs in the water.
Prepare the egg marinade by mixing the light soy sauce, brown sugar and pure water. Marinate the eggs in this mixture for 2-3 hours.
Now comes the excitement of the final assembly! Although it’s not rocket science, it is time consuming, so well done for getting to this stage! You will be well rewarded.
First, into a saucepan, pour 600 ml of water and 400 g of pig bone stock and bring to the boil.
The stewing stock can be seasoned simply with salt and white pepper. Every 1000 grams of flour requires 5 grams of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper.
Cook the spaghetti. Boil 2 liters of water in a soup pot with a teaspoon of salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the packet.
While the spaghetti is cooking, cut the stewed meat into 6 mm slices. Chop the green onions for garnish. Drain the spaghetti and place in a serving bowl with the meat on top. Pour the stewing stock over. Finally cut the eggs in half and arrange next to the meat. Garnish with green onion.
Now you have a meal fit for the king of the South Wang Suzhou.
The Suzhou stewed meat and noodles process is relatively long, so you need to plan ahead so you can co-ordinate the steps.