The literal translation of a common Shanghainese stir fry dish called chow san shxi (am not sure about the pin yin spelling for that last syllable) means 'fried three strips' which really means frying three kinds of finely julienned ingredients. The ingredients can be fresh bamboo, dried chinese mushrooms, hard beancurd, salted greens and pork although beef is fine too. My chow san shxi today was whatever I could find in the kitchen--pork, salted Sichuan veg and bamboo. I wanted to add dried mushrooms for more flavor but that would be chow si shxi, and that's unheard of. One of my favorite chow san shxi is pork, dried mushrooms and yellow chives but yellow chives are delicate and bruise easily so they aren't imported anymore.
A simple dish like this takes even more stir frying skill than you think. You mustn't have too much ingredients or there won't be enough heat to give that slightly smoky flavor, and each ingredient has to be fried according to its texture so that the result is a mixture of ingredients that is pleasing to the eye, tongue and taste buds. This means the pork should be marinaded ahead to give it flavor besides tenderizing it, the mushrooms must be fragrant and not tough and the salted greens not too salty, and everything should not be too bland or too salty. The control of the heat and time to add or dish out the fried ingredients is also important. Shanghainese stir-fries, unlike Cantonese, are usually not saucy with corn flour solution.
Chow san shxi is best eaten with a bowl of plain boiled rice and a good soup. For variation, you can change the ingredients but remember to balance them by color and texture and taste. Any left over chow san shxi can be used as topping over a bowl of wheat noodles, which can be served as is or with chicken stock to turn it into a bowl of soup noodles.
Chow San Shxi (for 4-5 ppl)
200 g canned bamboo, in thin julienne strips
200 g pork (shoulder is best) or beef or chicken, in thin julienne strips
140 g salted Sichuan veg/ja chai (those in small packets), comes already cut in strips
marinade for meat:
... 1 t sesame oil
...1/4 t salt
...shake of white pepper
...1 T water
...1/2 T corn flour
2 T shao xin wine
1/2 T light soy sauce
1/2 t chicken stock powder
pinch each of salt n sugar
veg oil for frying
extra corn flour
Preparation: marinade the meat strips with the sesame oil, salt and pepper, corn flour and water for at least 1/2 hour. If you like the pork more tender, add a large pinch of bicarb of soda.
If fresh spring or winter bamboo is available, remove the outer layers and hard stem, then cut into half and boil them in plenty of water for 10 minutes. Cut into very fine julienne strips when cool.
The ja chai comes cut in strips that aren't very fine so you can cut them thinner if like (but I don't bother). Do not wash because the ja chai in packets are seasoned and ready to eat, unlike the loose ja chai sold in wet markets.
1. Put 3 T veg oil in a heated wok. Add the meat, spreading it out in a thin layer. When the edges turn white, turn over and let fry a couple of seconds. You may have to rotate the wok around to get all the meat cooked. Stir and toss for a minute and dish it out. The meat should be almost cooked.
2. Add the bamboo (there should still be a coating of oil on the wok so the bamboo will not stick. If not, add a drizzle of oil) and stir fry, adding a pinch of salt and about 1/4 t of sugar. Lower the heat and let the bamboo fry for 1 minute.
3. Add the ja chai, stir well to mix the two ingredients. Now add the meat increase the heat, and stir quickly to mix. Add the wine, soy sauce and chicken powder, stir -frying all the time. If and only if the mixture looks too dry, mix 1 t corn flour with 1 T water and add to the mixture, stir-frying all the time until the corn flour water thickens and coats the mixture. Add an extra teaspoon of sesame oil, stir quickly and dish onto a plate. Some small strips of chili added will brighten the dish.