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Szechuan Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce
A spicy stir-fry with tenderized pork

Ingredients:
10 ounces boneless pork shoulder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 tablespoon Chinese dark vinegar
1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons shao hsing (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon MS1/4 (optional)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup dried tree ears
1 quart peanut oil
2 stalks celery, cut into julienne
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
5 scallions, finely chopped
7 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and diced

Directions:
1. Freeze pork slightly, then cut into long, thin julienne strips. Mix well with baking soda, and add just enough water to cover. Refrigerate, covered, for 5 hours.
2. When ready to cook, rinse pork and dry well.
3. Make the sauce: Mix together the tomato purée, vinegar, chili paste, 1 tablespoon water, sugar, shao hsing, soy sauce, sesame oil, and MSG. Blend the cornstarch with a little water until it becomes a milky cream, and stir into the sauce.
4. Soak the tree ears in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, then remove and reserve tree ears.
5. Heat the peanut oil in a wok to 375 degrees. Add pork and deep-fry for 30 seconds. Remove pork and place on paper towels. Let the oil return to 375 degrees, add the celery, and deep-fry 30 seconds. Remove and place on paper towels.
6. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil. Over high heat stir-fry garlic, ginger, and scallions for 1 minute. Add water chestnuts, stirring. Add pork, celery, and reserved tree ears, stirring. Add sauce mixture. Bring to boil quickly and serve immediately.

In this spicy stir-fry, the pork gets a baking soda marinade; this is a traditional Chinese technique for tenderizing meat before it goes into the wok. Serves 4 as part of a Chinese dinner