Sichuan shredded pork with garlic sauce (Yu Xiang Rou Si, 鱼香肉丝)

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour. 

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour. 

Since the start of my blog, many of my readers expressed an interest in Sichuan cuisine. Today, I’d like to share its signature dish which is believed to be the most ordered delicacy in Sichuan restaurants: Yu Xiang Rou Si (鱼香肉丝, also known as shredded pork with garlic sauce).

“Fish-flavoured” dish without fish

“Garlic sauce” is actually a term invented by Chinese restaurants in the West. It doesn’t indicate the sophistication of the seasoning used in Sichuan shredded pork. Essential ingredients include Sichuan pickled chilli, rice wine, black rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and generous amounts of garlic, ginger and spring onion. They create a tangy, spicy, sweet & sour taste known as “Yu Xiang (鱼香)” which literally means fish fragrance.

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour. 

Don’t be surprised not to find any fish (or fish-related items) on the ingredient list. It is believed that the seasoning used in Sichuan shredded pork was inspired by the way fish was traditionally prepared in Sichuan. Popular dishes like Yu Xiang Aubergine (鱼香茄子), Yu Xiang Tofu (鱼香豆腐) call for the same set of ingredients.

Substitute for the key ingredients

If you wish, you may replace pork fillet with chicken breast for this dish. Beef can be an option too as long as you choose a cut ideal for quick stir-fry (e.g. flank steak or skirt steak).

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour. 

Sichuan pickled chilli (四川泡辣椒) is the soul of Sichuan shredded pork with garlic sauce. It gives the dish a sharp spicy taste as well as an unique fragrance. I guess some of you might find it difficult to get this special ingredient. Living outside China for many years, I understand very well the frustration of not being able to find the “right” ingredients for Chinese cooking. The good news is I’ve found substitutes which don’t affect the flavour of this dish very much. You may use other type of pickled chilli (e.g. Spanish ones) or simply use fresh chilli (In fact I often use both of them when I don’t have Sichuan pickled chilli in stock). Make sure you mince the chilli very well to release its full flavour.

Tips on julienne the pork

As you might have realised, there is lots of chopping involved in preparing Sichuan shredded pork with garlic sauce. Every ingredient is either cut into thin strips or finely minced. This seems a labouring job. But believe me, finely chopped ingredients does make a difference to the final taste. The most challenging part has to be julienne the pork fillet. You first need to slice it then cut into thin strips.

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour. 

Here are my three tips:

  1. Freeze the meat for a while. It’s much easier to slice a more solid piece of meat. If possible, freeze the pork fillet for a couple of hours beforehand (time may vary depending on the size).
  2. Make sure the cleaver / knife is sharp. Not only a blunt one makes chopping time-consuming, but also it increases the chances of injury.
  3. Wet your cleaver / knife with water when cutting to avoid sticking.

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour. 

Be creative with the vegetables

In any “authentic” version of Sichuan shredded pork with garlic sauce, wood ear (木耳, black edible fungus commonly used in Chinese cuisine) and bamboo shoots are indispensable. They are rather plain in flavour yet provide a crunchy texture to the dish. Personally, I like being a bit more adventurous with the vegetables. Carrot, bell pepper, asparagus, baby corn and celery are on my list of choices. Please feel free to adjust the recipe according to the availability of certain ingredients and of course your own preference.

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour. 

Sichuan shredded pork with garlic sauce (Yu Xiang Rou Si, 鱼香肉丝)
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Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: 2 servings

Sichuan shredded pork with garlic sauce (Yu Xiang Rou Si, 鱼香肉丝)

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour.

Ingredients

    For the meat
  • 300g / 10oz pork fillet
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch / potato starch
  • For the vegetable
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan pickled chilli (See note 1 for substitute ideas)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garlic
  • 60g / 0.5 cup pre-soaked wood ear (about 5g dried, see note 2)
  • 60g / 0.5 cup bamboo shoots
  • 40g / 0.5 cup carrot
  • 1 stalk spring onion
  • For the sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 0.5 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons corn starch
  • You also need
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil

Instructions

  1. Slice pork fillet then cut into long thin strips (see note 3). In a bowl, rub the pork (with your hand) with rice wine, soy sauce, salt and water until no more liquid can be seen. Add corn starch then mix well. Set aside.
  2. Mince Sichuan pickled chilli (or fresh chilli), ginger and garlic. Cut wood ear, bamboo shoots and carrot into thin strips. Finely chop spring onion.
  3. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and stir well.
  4. Heat up a wok (or a deep frying pan) over a high heat. Pour in oil, then stir in marinated pork. Transfer to a plate when all the strips become pale.
  5. Fry Sichuan pickled chilli, ginger and garlic in the remaining oil (add a bit more if necessary). Add wood ear, bamboo shoots and carrot. Stir fry for half a minute or so then add the pork. Cook a further half a minute.
  6. Pour in the sauce (stir well beforehand to avoid starch sitting at the bottom). When it becomes thick, turn off the heat then sprinkle spring onion over (see note 4).

Notes

1. Substitute for Sichuan pickled chilli: If you have trouble getting Sichuan pickled chilli, please feel free to use other type of pickled chilli available (e.g. Spanish ones) or simply use fresh chilli (choose the hotness level that suits your palate).

2. Wood ear & how to soak it: Wood ear (木耳, aka black fungus) is a type of edible fungus commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It’s black in colour and usually comes in dried form. Soak it for 10 minutes in plenty of hot water (it will expand a lot) before use.

3. Tips on cutting the pork: Wet your cleaver / knife with water when slicing to avoid sticking. It’s much easier to slice a more solid piece of meat, so if possible freeze the pork fillet for a couple of hours beforehand (time may vary depending on the size).

4. Serving suggestions: This dish is typically served with plain rice. However, it’s equally nice to stir it in a bowl of freshly cooked noodles.

https://redhousespice.com/sichuan-shredded-pork-garlic-sauce/

Volià! Another classic dish for Sichuan cuisine lovers. Tell me what other recipes you are looking for by leaving a comment below. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog (in the sidebar) if you’d like me to keep you posted of upcoming recipes!

Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour.  Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour.  Signature dish of Sichuan cuisine, shredded pork with garlic sauce delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet & sour. 

Discover more classic Sichuan delicacies:

Mapo tofu, the authentic way (麻婆豆腐)

Ants climbing a tree: spicy vermicelli stir-fry (蚂蚁上树)

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