Chinese cuisine uses a wide variety of meats. However, it does tend to use a lot of pork. There are plenty of authentic Chinese dishes in which pork is the main or a main ingredient, and each one is unique and interesting. Here are a few such pork dishes to try the next time you're in a Chinese restaurant.
This is perhaps the most familiar pork dish you'll see at a Chinese restaurant. Char siu is basically barbecued pork, but it is seasoned and cooked in a traditional Chinese manner. The pork is rubbed with a mixture of Chinese five spice powder, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce before being prepared over a wood or charcoal fire. It's cooked until tender and then sliced against the grain. Char siu is typically served with white rice. You would take a bit of rice with each piece of pork, eating the two together.
If you like spicy dishes, then Mongolian pork is a good dish to order. It comes from the Mongolian region of China. The pork is cut into small pieces or strips. Then, it is stir fried with a sauce made from garlic, fresh ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Some restaurants allow you to order this dish hot, medium, or mild — in which case, they adjust how many pepper flakes they use according to your palate. Some versions contain vegetables, such as broccoli or carrots. Mongolian pork is delicious when served over rice, which absorbs the extra sauce.
In the Hunan province, this is a common dish to make with pork. The pork is cut into strips, then quickly stir fried with a combination of hot chili peppers, fermented bean paste, and soy sauce. The bean paste adds a really deep umami flavor to this dish. Some versions call for green beans or scallions to be stir fried along with the pork. This is a spicy dish, but the spice tends to be even and enjoyable. If you don't love too much spice, just make sure you don't take a bite of a chili pepper; they are often left whole so you can easily pick them out.
Pork is a great entree option in Chinese restaurants. Look for the three dishes above, and give them a try the next time you're out. Your palate and stomach will surely thank you.