I started making twice-cooked pork at home after trying it a few times in Sichuan restaurants and having serious cravings a day later. Called hui guo rou in Chinese, which translates to “meat returned to the wok,” this extremely popular Sichuan dish is like bacon coated with a pleasantly musky bean and chili sauce. The “twice-cooked” part refers to the pork belly being first simmered in salted water until fully cooked, then sliced and stir-fried in its own juices. The pork is then cooked with a hearty sauce of fermented black beans, chili bean sauce, and fragrant rice wine. I like to use leeks as the only vegetable; minimalism on the plate allows the pork to be the star of the show. Twice-cooked pork is a little more time-consuming than some of the stir-fries featured in the book thus far, but worth a try if you want to truly understand why Sichuan food is so addictive.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 pound pork belly
- 1 tablespoon fermented black beans, or substitute
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black bean paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon chili bean sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
- 1. Place the pork belly in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, skimming the water to remove any grayish foam on top, until the pork is cooked through. Drain and let cool. When the pork is cool enough to handle, pat completely dry with paper towels and slice into ¼-inch-thick pieces.
- 2. Rinse the black beans to remove any excess grit. Drain and lightly mash them with the back of a spoon.
- 3. Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, rice wine, chili bean sauce, sesame oil, and sugar. Set aside.
- 4. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Working in 2 batches, stir-fry the pork slices until golden brown on each side. Transfer the pork to a plate lined with paper towels. The pork belly will render extra fat, so drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the wok, then repeat the process with the second batch.
- 5. Reheat the wok and stir-fry the black beans, ginger, and leeks for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the leeks are softened. Return the pork to the wok. Pour in the sauce, stirring until everything is well combined. Transfer to a plate and serve.