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Fujianese (Fukienese) Pork Chops

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After reading Chowhound message board threads for several years, I finally decided to sign up tonight. There really is one particular reason for my joining this Forum and it is to try to find a restaurant that currently serves one of my all-time favorite things to eat - namely Fukinese Pork Chops.
There was a thread on one of the Chow message boards some time ago regarding the great Fujian (Fukien) style cuisine that was served at the late and great "Foo Joy Restaurant" on Division Street in Chinatown. After the NYC Police Dept. forced Foo Joy to close in the early '70s (they were running a gambling parlor in the back room that got busted) there was never (to my knowledge) any other Chinese restaurant in New York City that served "Fukinese Pork Chops". Note: they are about 1/4" to 3/8" in thickness, and are prepared by deep-frying them, after they have been marinated for many hours in a red bean paste. They were served at Foo Joy with a very spicy and dark, soy-based sauce. Take my word for it - I'm talking seriously delicious.
I would be very grateful if anyone out there in foodie cyberspace can direct me to any Fujian style restaurant that serves these pork chops in the metropolitan NYC area. I've already begun to salivate, just day dreaming about the possibility that they are currently available. Zabar

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  1. Hi Zabar, and welcome (do you get discounts there?).

    The Best is a relatively low-traffic board. I suggest you repost this query on the boards for Manhattan (where the newer Chinese immigration is heavily Fujjianese) and the Outer Boroughs (there are Fujianese communities in Brooklyn and Queens).

    I'll be looking on with interest to see if these pork chops turn up anywhere!

    8 Replies
    1. re: squid kun

      Dear "squid kun":
      I have taken your advice and posted this topic on the Manhattan message board. FYI, I shop at Zabar's frequently. It's my very favorite food store. I even own a wonderrul Golden Retriever that I named Zabar. Hence my choice of this "screenname" for the CH forum. Z

      1. re: Zabar

        For those Chowhounders who do not read the "Manhattan" board, the following is a link to a August 03, 1972 review of Foo Joy Restaurant and (can you believe it) recipes for the Fukienese Pork Chops and Fried Fish Balls. Unbelievable. Zabar
        http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/...

        1. re: Zabar

          BTW Zabar, it's Fried Fish Rolls. Sort of like thin egg roll in shape. Note also that in 1972 there was probably no source for red wine lees, so Foo Joy made do with substitutes including food coloring.

          1. re: bobjbkln

            Hey "bobjbkin":
            I did notice my error and have corrected my private files. "Fish Rolls" it is. You're probably also correct regarding the red wine "lee".
            I'm supposing that it is a "rice" wine lee? What do you think?
            I've gathered most of the ingredients and I'm planning on a virgin attempt at this recipe tonight or tomorrow using peanut oil and a deep frying pan rather than a deep-fryer. Also, I've eliminated the "MSG" and will have to do without the "lee" since I have not been near a potential source for it. There's no way that I'm going to use food coloring or a dye just to have vermillion colored pork chops - yuck!
            Hopefully, the taste of the pork chops will be acceptable. I'll advise. Zabar

            1. re: Zabar

              Hi, they sell the red rice wine lees in jars in every Chinese market in the NYC area I've been in (and that's a bunch of them). Look near the soy sauces. It's not just the coloring, it adds immeasurably to the flavor. Don't think you'll be able to get what you want without it. I rather imagine that they were available in NYC even in the Stone Age (1972) - I have a Chinese cookbook published in 1916 that mentions them being available from Mott St shops then.

              1. re: buttertart

                However, the Foy Joy recipe porkchop printed in the Times did not include "red rice wine lees". So Foo Joy did not use them in their preparation, and produced the color with food coloring. Either they could not find the lees in 1972 or it was just too expensive for them to include it (the restaurant was very inexpensive).

                1. re: bobjbkln

                  Rather surprising on both counts since there were lots of Chinese foodstuffs available even in Canada in 1972 (not knowing about red rice wine lees at the time I wasn't looking for them specifically though) and they're no more expensive than any other usual Chinese cooking ingredient.

          2. re: Zabar

            Damn, you gotta pay to see this one. Anybody got a copy that they can post?

      2. while i dont know where to get that dish off the top of my head (i'll keep my eyes peeled for it as i'm pretty sure it's available), i believe i know which dish you're talking about

        this is a recipe from a guy who's wife is taiwanese. most taiwanese are originally minnan people which are people from the southern part of the fujian province (they hail from cities such as xiamen and quanzhou), you usually hear about minnan people referred to as hokkien or hoko. the fujian people you see in chinatown are from fuzhou (further north) which is a bit different as their dialect is a little different and the food is a bit different, but there are certainly many similarities. i'm not sure where the people from foo joy were from, but here's the recipe.

        http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

        btw "hong zao" is not red bean but rather a type of date. if you want to get it from a chinese market tell them you want hong zao (pronounced the same phonetically) and here are the characters which you can print out in case there is any confusion 紅棗. the market will have it. the other ingredients are readily available in any market

        17 Replies
        1. re: Lau

          Dear "Lau":
          Thank you very much for your effort.
          I'm pretty certain about the "rice wine lee" being the recipe ingredient that was responsible for the distinctive red color on the fried pork chops that were served at Foo Joy.
          In addition, the chef at Foo Joy specifically referenced the "lee" in his recipe. Zabar

          1. re: Zabar

            actually i might be wrong, the hong zao may actually be rice wine lees

            i always thought hong zao paste was made with the dates b/c thats what dates / jujubes are called in chinese, but according to this article it is the hong zao is the rice wine lees

            http://www.saveur.com/article/Techniq...

            i can't be certain, but ive had this dish before and i think there is a high likelihood its the same dish

            scoopG - are you around? I think you know the answer to this

            1. re: Lau

              ok i did some research and i'm wrong, i got the characters wrong

              the hong zao the article referred to are these character 紅糟 which means wine dregs basically

              i thought they were referring to this hong zao 紅棗 which means dates / jujubees

              so the answer to your question is that the recipe shown in the link above is the same recipe b/c it calls for the pork chops to be marinated in rice wine lees (hong zao / 紅糟), i will go look for this for you this weekend. I think I want to try to make the dish myself this weekend. I'm almost 100% sure I'll be able to find it in the chinese markets in chinatown and it will probably easier for me to find it than you, i'll tell you exactly where to buy it once i find it

              here's a long and informative article on rice wine lees:

              http://gregwee.blogspot.com/2008/02/s...

              1. re: Lau

                Thank you Lau. Can't wait to read your post next week.

                1. re: Lau

                  I've seen red rice wine lees a lot of places - usually shelved near the fu ru (fermented beancurd cubes in jars).

                  1. re: buttertart

                    yah i figured it shouldn't be too hard to find

                    1. re: Lau

                      I promise to travel to Chinatown if I'm advised of the name and address of a store that sells "Red Rice Wine Lee". Zabar

                      1. re: Zabar

                        ok my first attempt was horribly unsuccessful, i went to the following and couldn't find it:

                        - hong kong super market

                        - New York Supermarket East Broadway (the one under the manhattan bridge): the guy here that i asked was pretty curt and told me he didn't know what i was talking about or what that was

                        - New York Mart (the new market on mott): i asked a woman here and she thought i was talking about dates even after i showed her the characters

                        - deluxe market (the big meat market on elizabeth)

                        - couple of random meat markets on grand

                        i'm going to go fish around more tomorrow around the fujian area of chinatown and flushing if necessary on saturday, i'm pretty hellbent on finding this

                        1. re: Lau

                          Zabar - what did these pork chops taste like?

                          i made them, but i wondering if i did something wrong. I found them extremely plain, the hong zao gave them this slight wine-y taste, but they needed salt or something. They were also not sour as the recipe says.

                          Also, the outside crispy part came out pretty good and I would make sure to pound the pork chops very thin (i didn't poung my thin enough), the meat would've turned out more tender if they would've been more tender.

                          http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

                          1. re: Lau

                            "Lau"... the flavor of the Fukienese Pork Chop recipe comes almost entirely from the "SCALLION SAUCE".
                            I was under the impression that you had downloaded the New York Times article from August 03, 1972 that included the Foo Joy chef's recipe for the dish. It's no wonder that you were disappointed!
                            Anyway... follow this recipe exactly and you should be "licking your chops"!
                            Sorry... I just could not resist the opportunity to use this "pun".
                            Please let me know what your impressions are after you make the pork chops using this recipe. I'm really hoping that you're going to be happy!

                            So here's the recipe that I cut and pasted on April 17, 2011:

                            FUKIENESE PORK CHOPS:
                            (re-printed on April 17, 2011 from NYT archived newspaper article) - Yield: 2 Servings
                            Personal Note::
                            Add enough "BU ZAO" (red rice wine lee) to the "PORK CHOP" preparation ingredients, in order to achieve a “tomato red” pork chop color.

                            PORK CHOP INGREDIENTS:
                            (10) ¼” thickness boneless pork chops or pork cutlets
                            2 Teaspoons – Light Soy Sauce
                            2 Teaspoons – 5-Taste Spice Powder
                            2 Teaspoons – Sesame Oil
                            2 Teaspoons - Salt
                            2 Teaspoons - Sugar
                            2 Teaspoons – Monosodium Glutamate (OPTIONAL)
                            Corn Starch for Dredging
                            Only use “PEANUT OIL” for Deep Frying
                            RED RICE WINE “LEE” (aka “BU ZAO”)

                            SCALLION SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

                            10 Scallions
                            6 Tablespoons – Dark (thick) Soy Sauce
                            8 Tablespoons – White Vinegar
                            8 Tablespoons – Sugar
                            2 Teaspoons - Salt
                            4 Teaspoons – 5-Taste Spice Powder

                            SCALLION SAUCE PREPARATION:
                            Slice scallions into "rings" that are from 1/8" inch wide to ¼" inch wide and combine them in a non-reactive bowl with all other "sauce" ingredients

                            PORK CHOP PREPARATION
                            In a non-reactive bowl, combine 10 pork chops with light soy sauce, 5-Taste Spice Powder, Sesame oil, Salt, Sugar, MSG and Red Rice Wine “Lee” (aka “Bu Zao”).
                            Mix all ingredients very well by hand
                            Refrigerate for at least 1 hour
                            Dredge pork chops lightly but thoroughly in Corn Starch
                            Set deep-fryer temperature to 375F.
                            Immerse pork chops and deep-fry (using a skimmer to turn them) for approximately 5 minutes or until desired doneness is achieved.
                            Remove and drain on paper towel.
                            Transfer to a serving dish and either pour the scallion sauce over the pork chops or serve the sauce separately.

                            .

                            1. re: Zabar

                              ahhhh this sounds much more like typical taiwanese style pork chops and much more flavorful

                              i will try this recipe

                              1. re: Lau

                                I have wonderful memories of going to Foo Joy restauant for the Fukeniese Pork Chops. They were a special dish and a super treat, I no longer go into Manhattan as the Asian community in downtown Flushing now seems to have a lot of great restaurants. Perhaps you could explore that area to locate someone who puts out that dish

                                1. re: E. Kantro

                                  Dear "E. Kantro":
                                  ]If you ever locate a Fujian style restaurant in Flushing that prepares Pork Chops using a recipe that is similar to the one that I previously posted, please provide us with the restaurant's name and address. Zabar

                                  1. re: Zabar

                                    fyi the fujian restaurants in flushing are concentrated on 40th rd just off main, there are like 3 maybe 4 right there

                                    there is also one in the golden mall

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      Hey "Lau".... did you ever recreate the recipe for the Fujian style pork chops that I posted for you? Zabar

                                      1. re: Zabar

                                        i have not, ive been meaning to, but i just got really busy

                                        however, i plan on trying again soon

                                  2. re: E. Kantro

                                    Me too, E.Kantro. I used to go there for the pork chops and to the Joy Luck on Mott Street--the Joy Luck prepared periwinkles in a hoisin-chile sauce that were out of this world. I managed to get that recipe and prepared them often at the restaurant where I worked in the mid-70s. Stir-fried periwinkles sound like stir-fried marbles in the wok!

                                    Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

            2. In my neverending quest to locate a reasonable facsimile to Foo Joy's scrumptious pork chops, I stumbled upon a website that contained a rather easy recipe that will definitely help any interested Chowhounder to recreate this very special and arcane Fujian style dish. Here's the link. Enjoy. Zabar

              http://www.foodrecipeonline.com/blog/...

              1. I just visited Taiwan's Matsu Island Group, which is geographically located closer to China. In fact, I took a ferry there from Fuzhou, off Fujian's coast. Matsu seems to be a bastion of Mindong (Eastern Min) culture and features its dialect (not mutually intelligible with Minnan (Southern Min)), cuisine and traditional architecture. I believe cooking with rice wine lees is common throughout Fujian, though the red lees may be more popular in the Fuzhou area.

                Hongzao is a byproduct of brewing laojiu fermented with red rice yeast. Most manufacturers probably use chemical dyes to attain the color these days. In Matsu, hongzao is a popular seasoning in many dishes, including fried pork chops, sea eel, buddha-hand clams, and fried rice. The pork chops I had on a few occasions didn't come with any sauce, just a wedge of lime on the side. Was good, but the sea eel tasted better.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lostinether

                  wow u actually went there? the only reason i'd ever heard of that place is b/c i watched some taiwanese drama where the main character gets sent there

                  1. re: Lau

                    Ha, does the main character have to do his military service there? Matsu is a cute, chill place, not much industry besides tourism and the distillery that makes kaoliang and brews laojiu.

                    I bought a jar of the hongzao sauce to make the fried rice at home, and might even attempt a fried chicken.