How to make Guizhou Grill Pot
? Laoguo is one of those dishes that’s kind of hard to give a recipe for.
Because really, I think it’s less of a dish and more of an idea or a culture, or maybe a style of eating.
See, Guiyang is one of the last great bastions of street food in China – the sheer diversity of stuff you can find walking out your front door’s there unlike anywhere .
How To Make Guizhou Grill Pot?
I’ve been to on the planet.
I love this place – in my book, true happiness is cracking open an ice-cold Tsingtao and wandering aimlessly down a Guiyang street on an empty stomach.
And between all the snacks, the requisite street barbecue, and the fiery stir-fries, there’s a classic Guizhou specialty, Laoguo.
Now, Laoguo’s kind of hard to describe.
We translated it as ‘grill pot’ here,but it’s really more of like the pan-frying equivalent of something like hotpot or Korean barbecue.
You take some stuff, fry it on your pan, then dip it in a special sort of chili spice mix.
And that’s… basically the idea.
Nothing complicated, just a chill meal to have with friends or family over a few beers.
So then really more than the food itself, for Laoguo you’ll need to take a look at your equipment set-up.
In Guiyang, they’ll use these special convex pans that’ll drain the frying oil into the sides.
Definitely not mandatory though.
For us, we use a 14 inch cast iron skillet, which works great so feel free to just use what’s in your kitchen and get creative.
As for heat source, a little gas Iwatani camper burner like this is perfect but swapping that for an electric hotplate or even over some charcoals would also work just fine.
As for food – you can honestly toss on whatever you want.
Tofu’s classic here, ditto with rice cakes and lotus root and we’ll definitely toss a detailed list of our entire feast here down in the description box.
The one ingredient that I would suggest you try to include though, if at possible, is some marinated pork belly.
This was just 250 grams worth, marinated with the standard marinade of a ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp sugar, ½ tsp cornstarch, ¼ tsp light soy sauce, a half teaspoon liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine… mixed well, then coated with one teaspoon of oil.
What we’ll be doing is frying the pork belly at first and rendering out some of the lard which helps give everything a nice base flavor.
Not mandatory, but, it is nice.
So then that brings us to the one real constant here though – that laoguo dipping sauce.
Now in Guizhou this’s actually like a product that you can just buy, so not every shop makes their own.
But given that I heavily doubt anything remotely resembling this is on Amazon, let’s just show you how to whip some up real quick.
So we’ll be starting out with 15 grams of dried chilis – here we’re using a chili called Guizhou longhorn but anything that’s got a sort of medium kick to it like Arbolsor Cayennes should work just fine.
Snip into one-inch pieces, toss in a wok, and toast over medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, or until your chilis deepened into chestnut color like this.
Toss in a strainer, give it a jiggle to get out some of the seeds and give those a blitz in a coffee or spice grinder to get it into a fine powder.
Next up, spices. Here we used one star anise, a quarter of a cinnamon stick and five whole cloves.
Toast those in a dry wok for about three minutes over medium-low heat, then toss in two teaspoons of fennel seed and five teaspoons Sichuan peppercorn.
Astute observers might notice that these five spices are the five spices that make up, Chinese five-spice, we’re just doing a particularly Sichuan-peppercorn heavy mix.
Note that these quantities will leave you with a bit of extra five spice though.it’s just super awkward to do any smaller of a batch than this. So then take those out, toss in a coffee or spice grinder, and blitz into a fine powder.
Finally, nuts. Thirty grams of peanuts, just toast those over medium heat for about ten minutes until cooked through and the skins
are slightly charred .then, give them a peel.
Then do the same with fifteen grams of sesame seeds, medium heat, about five minutes until they’ve deepened in color and start
to make some light popping sounds.
Now make your final spice mix by tossing those peanuts in a mortar crushing them until powdery ,then going in with the sesame
Lightly pound the sesame until they’re just barely cracked open a bit, then toss in a half tablespoon each of salt, sugar, and MSG.
Then go in with two teaspoons of your homemade five-spice powder and three tablespoons of your toasted chili powder give that all a mix, and your Laoguo dipping sauce is good to go.
So right. There’s honestly not much else to really describe here. Before eating, get your pan piping hot, then brush on your oil
– here we’re using caiziyou, a Chinese virgin rapeseed oil. but you can use whatever you find tasty.
We start with the pork belly first medium flame and let it cook.
Take your time, enjoy the process, because this is decidedly not a meal for when you’re in a rush. Just crack open a beer, relax, munch on some food, and enjoy some conversation.
When we were going through the depths of our lockdown situation over here, this was always the meal that seemed to hit the spot.
But. Before we let you go, we did want to share one more thing.
I think most of you know that we try to keep things on the straight and narrow on this channel.
After all, the cumulative knowledge of generations of Chinese cooks is a lot more interesting than any sort of ‘fusion-y’ invention we could come up with.
That said, a bit over a month back we made a Reddit post about cooking in lockdown that a lot of people seemed to really like, even made it past the purview of our little Chinese food-obsessed community here.
In it,I talked about some of the inventions we’d been whipping up – and there was one riff off laoguo that apparently some people found decently interesting. A few people asked us for a recipe, so we’ll oblige, just know that this isn’t really authentic to, well anything.
So first up, while Laoguo’s very much a chill-and-relax kind of situation, there is a shortcut here.
See, if you pre-fry many of your longer-cooking ingredients, then stir-fry everything together real quick, when you pour
it in your pan everything’s more or less all set.
Pretty convenient, so this is one route we choose sometimes.
So, on a whim one day Steph decided to whip up a quick sort of ‘whatever sauce to coat our stuff while stir-frying.
This’s vaguely evocative of a sauce that’s sometimes used in Sichuanese restaurants to braise stuff, but it’s mostly just what we had hanging around.
This was two tablespoons mianchi and you could sub that with Japanese red miso,a tablespoon and a half chili garlic sauce, a tablespoon of hoisin sauce, a tablespoon and a half of light soy sauce, a teaspoon of oyster sauce, a teaspoon of dark Chinese vinegar, a teaspoon of liaojiu aka Shaoxing wine, two teaspoons of chili oil and you could swap that for some Laoganma or even a bit of chili powder if you need a half tablespoon sugar, a quarter teaspoon salt, and finally a quarter teaspoon MSG.
You might have some extra, because three tablespoons of that sauce is good for frying about half a kilo of ‘stuff’.
So then after our pre-frying, we toss the heat on medium-low, and fry three tablespoons of that sauce in two tablespoons of oil for
about one minute.
Then we go in our pre-fried ingredients together with some fresh vegetables, fry that together for about half a minute and toss that into our sizzling pan.
Now munching on this is great, but I weirdly had the desire to go at this in the Northern Chinese chunbing-spring-pancake-style of eating.
For the uninitiated, Chunbing eating’s pretty cool – you basically take a bit of a stir-fry, wrap it in a spring pancake, and munch on
it that way… if you’re familiar with the way Moo Shu Pork’s served in the west, that’s more or less the idea.
I was feeling a bit lazy to make spring pancakes though, so instead I just decided to whip up some flour tortillas. It all definitely
worked, but the American in me ended up kinda craving cheese to be somehow incorporated.
But of course, China’s not exactly a cuisine that’s synonymous with cheese.
Luckily though, we’ve got a friend from Brazil that runs a small company in Shenzhen making fresh cheeses using the buffalo milk available locally here in Guangdong.
So in the height of lockdown he sent us out a package with a bunch of Oaxaca cheese, which really really worked.
So we liked letting the Oaxaca cheese melt a bit in our pan, then scraping into a tortilla, then filling it with the stuff from our Laoguo together with a bit of Lao Gan Ma black soybean chili.
While in hindsight, I’m pretty sure all we did here was reverse engineer Fajitas if you do ever find yourself in the habit
of making laoguo, you can definitely do worse than this riff.
So right – in some places in Guizhou, they’ll use chicken fat instead of pork fat. What they do is that they get some chicken skin, chicken fat renders oil and then they start the grilling process.
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