Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shao - Roast, Burn and Stew

The character you just learned, hong, or red, shows up a lot with one other character. That is shao 燒, which means to roast or burn, or in this case it means stew. Red Cook or Hong Shao 紅燒, is a wonderful method for meats or root vegetables, where you braise in soy sauce, five-spice and often wine. Some cuisines might add a little sugar too. It is usually translated on the English menu as "soy sauce chicken" or "soy sauce pork". It is a popular way to treat fat-back and side pork, since you render out a lot of the fat, and replace it with other yummy flavors.

Shao 燒, however, mostly means roasting and barbecue, and we will learn about that real soon.

How to recognize: On the left is the radical, which is fire, and it looks like a dancing man. We're going to get real familiar with that radical. Here the dancing guy is standing next to a structure of racks, like an upright charcoal barbecue. He's a barbecue guy! He's standing there roasting and basting that meat.

Right now, though, he's not roasting. He's simmering up some chicken in red-cooking sauce. Here's what his sign for Red Cooked Chicken would say:

The Pinyin spelling is shāo or shao1 (first tone).

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