Battered Pork Tenderloin Fries软炸里脊ruǎn zhà lǐ jǐ

These golden pouches, filled with lightly seasoned pork, have airy, soft and chewy shells and are very juicy on the inside.  I originally intended to make this Beijing-style dish as an appetizer, but after snacking on a couple of them I literally couldn’t stop and before I knew they became an entire meal. So, appetizer or main course, these are apparently good for any level of hunger!

I have tweaked the traditional recipe a bit by adding baking powder into the batter. Baking powder helps create tiny air bubbles on the surface of the battered meat when it is placed in hot oil. The bubbles expand the surface area of the batter, breaking up its thickness, which results in a soft and chewy fried battered pork loin.

This batter also goes well with shrimp, fish fillet and chicken breast.

Serving 4-6

  • 400g                         pork tenderloin/pork loin, cut into 3-cm-long strips
  • 2 cups                         cooking oil for deep fry
  • Ketchup or Tabasco (any spicy sauce) for dipping sauce

Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons             Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon             Maggi seasoning sauce (or simple use light soy sauce)美极鲜或者生抽
  • ½ teaspoon                 salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon               white peppercorn powder白胡椒粉
  • 1 tablespoon              cooking oil

Batter

  • 200g                           all-purpose flour中筋面粉
  • 2 medium-size eggs
  • 1 teaspoon                  salt
  • 1 teaspoon                  baking powder泡打粉
  • 220g                           water

Method

  1. Clean the pork, cut into long strips and put in to a mixing bowl. Add all the seasoning ingredients except 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.  Use your hand to ‘massage’ all the pork strips to ensure seasonings are well absorbed. Toss in 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Mix well.  If done properly, you will not see any liquid left on the bottom of your mixing bowl. Marinate for 20 minutes.

2. In the meantime, let’s make the batter. Place flour in a mixing bowl. Place into the rest of the ingredients except water. Adding water gradually while using chopsticks to stir and mix. Stir in one direction till smooth and no dry flour in the bowl. The batter should be able to thinly hang on the chopsticks.

3. Heat the two cups of cooking oil to about 320°F/160°C.

4. Dip the pork strips in the batter in small batches. Make sure the pork strips are well coated with batter. Slide the pork strips into the cooking oil. Fry for around 3 to 4 minutes over medium fire until slightly browned. Transfer out in a kitchen towel-lined plate. Remove the burned batter bits from the oil pot before cooking a new batch of battered pork loin.

5. If you prefer a crispier shell, you can quickly deep fry the cooked pork strips again. Simply reheat the oil to 200°C/400°F (almost smoky), place the pork strips in. Quickly fry for 20 to 30 seconds until golden brown. Transfer out.

6. Serve hot.

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