Fragrant and spicy, twice-cooked pork is a mouth-watering Chinese Sichuan delicacy. This recipe shows you how to cook it faster without compromising the taste.
If you ask me to name 10 most popular Chinese Sichuan dishes, twice-cooked pork (回锅肉) will definitely make it to the list (probably among the top 3). As a huge fan of Sichuan cuisine and a food blogger writing authentic Chinese recipes, I feel obliged to share my own version of this delicacy.
A unique method: cook twice
Hui Guo Rou (回锅肉), the Chinese name of twice-cooked pork, literally means “the meat that returned to the wok”. It explains the unique cooking process of this dish. The meat (it refers to pork belly) is cooked twice: it’s firstly simmered and sliced, then stir fried with vegetable and seasoning. This gives a unique taste and texture to the meat which is very different from braised dishes like Red cooked pork belly, Chinese pork burger or stir-fried dishes of pork.
A classic flavour: fragrant and spicy
Twice-cooked pork shares a similar flavour profile as classic Sichuan dish like Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) and Ants Climbing a tree (蚂蚁上树). The key flavour, fragrant and spicy, comes from two versatile Sichuan condiments: chilli bean paste and fermented black beans. Vegetables, such as garlic green, cabbage, bell pepper, scallion, onion, etc., are added to provide a nutritive balance of the dish.
The traditional way is time-consuming
In the traditional version of twice-cooked pork, you need to simmer the meat for 30 to 45 minutes until it’s completely cooked and has a tender texture. When stir fried afterwards, pork slices retain the tenderness, but gain a crispy texture. It’s simply divine. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time to cook this dish the traditional way, especially during busy weekdays if I don’t plan ahead and simmer the pork the night before.
How do I cook it faster?
After experimenting, I’ve developed a fast version for twice-cooked pork. Here is how I cook it for a quick lunch or dinner:
- I reduce the time for the first part of cooking. Instead of cooking through the meat over a long period, I give it a quick boil (3-5 minutes). It should appear cooked from outside, but still a little bit pink in the centre when sliced. This way the pork slices are not as tender, but in my opinion, the slight chewiness is rather pleasant. A tip: Try to slice the pork as thin as possible for a better finished texture.
- I choose one single vegetable to accompany the meat. Having a similar taste as spring onion and onion, leek is a great choice for this dish. It’s widely available all year round in Western supermarkets, and it takes very little time to prepare and cook. For a more visually appealing look, I also add some fresh red chilli (instead of red bell pepper as I fancy very hot food). But it’s totally optional.
- I serve it in a creative way. On a Chinese dinner table, twice-cooked pork is usually served with plain rice (along with other savoury dishes if there are more dinners). However, you are free to have it as you like. For example, I often use it as a filling for wraps. In the pictures, you can see I placed it into folded flatbread which I happened to have that day. No need to steam a pot of rice and to wash the pot after. This saved me lots of time! It can also be used to stuff Chinese tortilla (see how to make it here). Another tip: It’s equally delicious when mixed with freshly cooked noodles.
It has been a joy writing this post. Hope you find it interesting too. If you’d like to read more exciting Sichuan recipes, stay tuned by subscribing to my blog (in the sidebar) or following me on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram.
Have a yummy day!
More mouth-watering recipes featuring pork belly: