Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork

By Tuesday, July 03, 2012

This recipe comes from Fuchisia Dunlop's Sichuan Cookery. Sichuan is situated in south-west China. In her book, Dunlop describes how Sichuan food is full of flavour and spice due to the extensive use of dried chillies and Sichuan pepper in almost all of their dishes. I have never really tried to cook oriental dishes, however after a trusty recommendation of the extraordinary flavour and ease of Dunlop's recipes, I thought I would give it a go. 

I doubled this recipe as we had a few extra mouths to feed! The recipe suggests groundnut oil, however sunflower oil does exactly the same job and is a lot easier to find in supermarkets. I didn't have the sweet bean paste or fermented black beans that Dunlop mentioned in the recipe, so instead compensated with two different types of chilli bean paste.

The trick with Sichuan cooking is to prepare all of the ingredients in advance as the cooking itself takes very little time. The stir-frying was an enlightening experience - it is surprisingly hard work on your arms, as there needs to be one hand holding the wok at all times to avoid a painful oil accident and the other needs to be constantly stirring the ingredients to avoid anything from burning. Nonetheless, the labour was well worth it as this dish was extraordinary. The twice cooked pork was tender on the inside but deliciously sharp and crispy on the outside. The chilli paste gave the dish a sharp kick, however did not overwhelm the entire dish, allowing the taste of the leeks and pork to come through. 

You will need:

600g Pork Belly
6 baby leeks
3 tbsp chilli bean paste
3 tbsp spicy chilli bean paste
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp white sugar
4 tbsp Sunflower oil

Stir-frying is a very quick process, so prepare all of the ingredients well in advance. Cut the pork belly into sizeable chunks. 

Add to a large pan of boiling water and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the water and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, leave in the refrigerator for a few hours so it becomes firm. 

Chop the leeks diagonally (Dunlop describes them as 'thin horse ear' slices!). Measure out the soy sauce, sugar and chilli bean pastes into small ramekins and leave to one side. 

Once you are ready to cook, season the wok. This means heating the wok on a high heat until it begins to smoke. Then add a few tablespoons of oil and gently swirl around the wok until the oil begins to smoke. Safely dispose of the oil, either by pouring it into a heat-proof container or pouring it outside. Once you have completed this process, add more oil to the wok and begin cooking. 

Add the pork pieces to the wok and season for a few minutes until they are crispy and have a form a slight curve. Use a metal spatula to push most of the pork to one side of the wok. This is tricky as not all of the pieces cooperated when I attempted this manoeuvre, so just try your best! Add the chilli bean paste and stir fry it for half a minute or so, or until the oil turns a deep red, then add the spicy chilli bean paste. Stir around for a few seconds, then release the pork from your spatula and cover with the infused oil. 

Add the soy sauce and sugar. Toss the pork regularly to prevent it from sticking to the wok. Finally add the sliced leeks to the wok and cook for a minute or so, giving them time to soften. Immediately remove from the wok into a preheated serving dish and enjoy!

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