My husband and I went to South Yunnan Road in search of the infamous Fried Shanghai Pork Chops on our most recent trip to Shanghai. Something like this was a treat when I was a kid growing up in Shanghai, but it wasn’t something we had very often. Unfortunately, it wasn’t at all like I remembered it.
I’m sure plenty of clueless tourists visited Shanghai in search of the fabled Fried Shanghai Pork Chops but were left wondering what all the fuss was about. On the other hand, I have a better idea of how this pork chop should taste.
Because of the scarcity and exorbitant cost of cooking oil, fried foods were a rare treat in my household, and for me, the thought of fried Shanghai pork chops immediately conjures images of Chinese New Year. As many of my elders have pointed out, every day is Chinese New Year, so I’m getting old.
Most people born in the last few decades will find that statement incomprehensible. Your favorite foods would be even more enjoyable if you could only indulge in them once a year. My goal in writing this is to express my feelings of nostalgia and to preserve a fleeting memory from my youth. Bill always says no one needs a notebook anymore; everyone has a blog.
There are still many of Shanghai’s famous traditional street foods that visitors can enjoy today. Soup dumplings (xiao long bao), pan-fried buns (sheng jian bao), and these fried Shanghai pork chops are all staples of the street food sold by the many Chinese vendors who have set up shop in America.
With Shanghai’s expansion into a larger, busier metropolis, I’ve found that the street food versions of these irresistible treats never live up to my expectations. If what you’ve had from Shanghai still needs to meet your expectations, don’t give the cuisine a pass entirely! Simply put, you still need to find the right eatery.
As a native Shanghainese, I can tell you that the locals are picky eaters, so you can’t go wrong by imitating them. You can get great recommendations from people you know or the hotel concierge.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this recipe, then.
- 1 lb. of pork tenderloin
- 4 eggs divided
- ½ tsp. of white pepper
- 2 tbsp. of light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 1½ tbsp. of oyster sauce
- 1 tsp. of cornstarch
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- ½ cup of all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups of panko breadcrumbs
For the Dipping Sauce:
- 1½ tbsp. of light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. of Chinese black vinegar
- ½ tsp. of sugar
- 1 tsp. of Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tbsp. of water
- Chili oil, to taste
- The pork tenderloin should be washed and dried with a paper towel or kitchen towel. Cut the pork, at an angle of 30 degrees, into slices about 2 inches thick. Then, using a rolling pin or knife blade, pound the meat to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Be cautious about wearing it down too much by pounding.
- Use 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, 112 tablespoons oyster sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch to marinate the pork chops. Marinate for 30 minutes after thorough mixing. (If you’re making this in the summer, store it in the refrigerator.)
- The dipping sauce needs to be made right now. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of black vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons of water, and chili oil to taste. Mix it up and put it aside for a while.
- Oil a deep frying pan with the vegetable oil until it’s about an inch deep. Preheat it over low heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together 2 eggs. Put half a cup of all-purpose flour in one bowl and two cups of panko in another.
- Get a beaten egg and quickly dip the pork chop in it before it gets too dry. Then, coat it in panko. Attempt to pack as many panko flakes onto the pork chop as possible. Continue until all of the pork is covered.
- Bring the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit by increasing the heat to medium-high. Cook the pork chops for 1.5 minutes per side in batches. When the exterior becomes golden brown, they are done. The pork chops will taste much better if they are not overcooked. The vast majority of pork is overcooked. They ought to have a juicy texture. When switching between batches, place the pork on a wire rack or plate lined with paper towels.
- When ready to serve, slice the pork chop into thick strips and serve with the sauce you made for dipping.