Succulent pork flavored with fried scallions and a rich sauce, Shanghai scallion pork chops are hearty, comforting and quick to prepare.
What are scallion pork chops
Scallion pork chops, known as Cong Kao Da Pai/葱烤大排 in Chinese, is a classic Shanghainese dish that highlights several key features of the region’s cuisine: a love for scallions (as seen in dishes like Scallion Oil Noodles, Scallion Tofu), heavy use of soy sauce and an appetizing brown color in the dishes.
Essentially, this dish consists of perfectly seared pork chops, together with lightly charred scallions, braised in a rich, soy sauce-based liquid. The aromatic, savory-sweet taste combined with the tender, succulent texture makes for an irresistible comforting crowd-pleaser.
While scallion pork chops may not have the same level of fame as Shanghai Pan-Fried Pork Buns (Sheng Jian Bao), it’s a hearty and easy-to-cook dish that’s perfect for feeding a family on both weekdays and weekends.
Here are some pro tips to bear in mind before you start learning the recipe:
- Pound the pork chops for a tender texture
- Marinate the meat before cooking
- Use a generous amount of scallions
- Keep the searing hot and brief
- Boil down the cooking liquid at the end
Here is the simple list of ingredients you need for this recipe:
Usually, bone-in pork chops are used for this recipe. But it’s perfectly fine to use boneless ones. For shooting this recipe, I used pork loin steaks which don’t have any bones but a small portion of fat (it offers great flavor).
It’s best to choose thinly cut pieces. The ones I used were about ⅝ inch (1½ cm) thick.
When it comes to scallions (aka green onion/spring onion), don’t be afraid to use a generous amount. The more the merrier! As in my recipe for Scallion Ginger Salmon, they provide a wonderful aroma and flavor to this dish.
Shaoxing rice wine
Cornstarch, or tapioca/potato starch, etc, is used to tenderize the pork.
Sugar & white pepper
Shanghai cuisine is renowned for its generous use of sugar for pairing with the salty taste of soy sauce. But please feel free to adjust its quantity to suit your own taste. Additionally, a pinch of white pepper can be added for a subtle heat.
Neutral-flavored oil is used in this recipe, such as sunflower, vegetable, canola, rapeseed, corn, peanut, soybean oil, etc.
Step 1: Pound the meat
Put the pork chops onto a cutting board over a stable surface. Pound them, one piece at a time, with a meat pounder (aka meat mallet) or the spine of a cleaver (what I usually use).
Make sure the pounding motion is firm and controlled. Pound both sides until the pork is flattened to about half of its original thickness.
🛎 Note: What does pounding the meat do?
Here are the reasons why you need to do so:
- It helps to break down the muscle fibers of the pork thus making it more tender to eat.
- It ensures an even and fast cooking
- It allows the marinade and seasoning to be absorbed more effectively.
Step 2: Marinate the meat
Put the flattened pork chops in a bowl. Add light soy sauce, cornstarch (mixed with a little water) and white pepper. Use your hand (wear gloves if you wish) to stir and rub. Once all the liquid disappears, leave to marinate for about half an hour.
Step 3: Sear the meat
Set a large skillet (frying pan) over high heat and add oil. When the skillet becomes very hot, put in the pork chops in a single layer (you should hear a sizzling sound straightaway).
The meat sears quickly. When the side facing down loses its pinkness and develops a golden color, flip over to sear the other side. When both sides are done, take out the pork leaving the oil in the skillet.
🛎 Note: Be careful not to overcook the pork during this process. A quick sear over high heat helps to lock in the moisture, while lengthy frying over low heat could dry out the meat instead.
Step 4: Braise the meat
Add scallions to the remaining oil. Spread them out and fry over medium heat.
When they’re lightly charred, place the pork chop on top. Add Shaoxing rice wine, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar and hot water.
Briefly stir the cooking liquid then cover the skillet with a lid. Leave to braise for 5 to 7 minutes.
Finally, uncover the skillet and boil down the liquid over high heat. Once the sauce thickens a little, turn off the heat and dish out.
🛎 Note: Use the cooking time as guidance as it may vary depending on the heat power and the thickness/total quantity of the meat. If unsure, use a kitchen thermometer to test (poke into the thickest piece). The internal temperature should be above 160°F/71°C.
How to serve
They also make a great addition to noodle dishes. Dilute the cooking liquid with hot water to make a broth. Add boiled noodles (try homemade ramen, hand-pulled noodles, etc.) then top with a piece of pork chop and the softened scallions.
Other pork dishes to try
Looking for more classic Chinese dishes using pork? Here are some to try:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & if you REALLY like it, consider leaving a comment as well!
Scallion Pork Chops (葱烤大排)
- 2 lb pork chops - about 6 pieces (see note 1)
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoon cornstarch - mixed with 3 tablespoon water
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
Pound the meat
- Place the pork chops, one piece at a time, onto a sturdy cutting board. Use a meat pounder (meat mallet), or the spine of a cleaver, to flatten the meat.
- Flip over to do the same to the other side until the meat is reduced to about half of the original thickness.
Marinate the meat
- Put the pork chops into a large mixing bowl. Add light soy sauce, cornstarch (mixed with water) and white pepper.
- Use your hand to mix and rub until the liquid has been fully absorbed by the meat. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes or so.
Sear the meat
- Add oil to a large skillet (frying pan). Place it over high heat. When the oil is hot, lay in the marinated pork chops without overlapping.
- As soon as the surface touching the skillet loses its pinkness and becomes lightly golden, turn the meat over to sear the other side (do not overcook). Remove from the skillet once both sides are done. Set aside.
Braise the meat
- Turn the heat down to medium. Fry scallions in the remaining oil in the skillet until they begin to wilt and char slightly.
- Put the pork chop over the scallions. Add Shaoxing rice wine, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar and hot water. Cover with a lid and leave to braise for 5 to 7 minutes (see note 2).
- Remove the lid and turn the heat up to high. Let boil vigorously to reduce and thicken the cooking liquid.
- Dish out and serve warm with steamed rice or noodle soup (use the sauce diluted with hot water as the soup).
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.