These pan-fried pork cutlets take their pleasantly sour flavor from hong zao, a reddish fermented rice paste. We ran this recipe with Matt Gross's feature about eating in Taiwan, "Taipei, Family Style," in our April 2010 issue.
Sour Fried Pork Cutlets (Hong Zao Zha Zhu Pai)
These pan-fried pork cutlets take their pleasantly sour flavor from hong zao, a reddish fermented rice paste.
Yield: serves 4
3 tbsp. hong zao paste
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. mushroom powder
4 (4-oz.) boneless pork chops, trimmed and pounded to 1⁄4" thickness
1⁄2 cup coarsely ground sweet potato starch or panko
1 cup canola oil
Combine hong zao paste, sugar, and mushroom powder in a medium bowl. Put pork into a baking dish and smear with the marinade; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to overnight.
Put sweet potato starch on a plate and dredge pork, shaking off excess. Heat 1⁄2 cup oil in a 12" nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add two pieces of pork to skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown and crispy, 3–4 minutes. Transfer pork to a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining oil and pork. To serve, cut the pork into strips and transfer to a platter.