Garlic-Sauce White Pork at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa

Garlic-Sauce White Pork at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa

Cold Pork Belly slices in Garlic sauce is a classic Chinese Appetizer dish with quite a few variations. I have made, and been served it at restaurants many times, and sometimes I like it a lot, and other times not very much. Unfortunately, the version at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa really didn’t appeal to me at all.

This particular appetizer appeared on the menu at Harmony Restaurant under its traditional Chinese name 蒜泥白肉 (suàn ní báiròu). The last two characters translate as ‘White Pork’ which essentially means that the Pork (almost exclusively Pork Belly) is simply poached with a few seasonings, and no ingredients, such as soy sauce that might change the color.

The 蒜泥 is often translated as ‘Garlic Mush’, or even ‘Garlic Mud’, which usually indicates that the Garlic used in the sauce for the ‘White Pork’ is finely minced or ground to a paste. This sauce may be little more than Garlic with a little sugar and some Rice Wine, but can include many other ingredients and can be quite spicy hot with Chili.

The version at the Harmony Restaurant was quite generous with the pork and, somewhat unusually, it was served on a bed of slivered cucumber. The sauce, unfortunately, was basically just a lightly-sweetened soy with just a dash of vinegar,r and the garlic consisted of just some coarsely sliced pieces scattered over top of the pork with the sauce largely lying underneath. Really, this fell short of the usual garlicky sauce and was very nearly bland.

The pork was very thinly sliced in way it is most commonly served, but it was very fatty indeed. Now, I say this not to criticize, because that is the way many people will enjoy this dish the most, but for my own personal taste, too much fat in a cold presentation can be a bit greasy and unpleasant. Perhaps, if the sauce had been a little more interesting, say with more of a Sichuanese character, I might have enjoyed it more, but the fatty meat in a bland sauce left me a bit underwhelmed.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!