Sichuan twice cooked pork is one of my favourite Sichuan dishes. It is very spicy, very flavoursome and sooo exotic :)
I discovered Sichuan food about 3 and half years ago. I know… how can one live without it for so long… It happened completely randomly. I just had a baby and my mum came over from France to help me and see our little girl, Léonore.
We decided to take her to a good restaurant one night and we were walking around Sydney’s China town thinking that for a gluten/dairy intolerant, Asian food is a brilliant option. Feeling tired of walking around I just wanted to stop in any restaurant. We ended up at Red Chilli Sichuan in Haymarket not knowing at all what was awaiting us.
It was one of the most remarkable, shocking and delicious culinary experience for me and for Wendell too. I remember with extreme precision every single dish we had… Right after it, we started to have a routine of checking out all Sichuan restaurants in Sydney. The next step for me was to buy a Sichuan recipe book. It seemed at the time and I know it still is know, that the absolute queen of this subject (in English) is Fuchsia Dunlop. This British girl did what I would dream but never dared to do… she went China to learn how to cook Chinese food from a proper Chinese Culinary School in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province. Not speaking a word of Chinese, she managed her way through this enormously difficult challenge and ended up becoming an extraordinary Sichuan Cuisine Chef. She wrote a few books about her experience. I bought them all :) I will review them here one by one.
In all of them she talks about this recipe. I make it on a very regular basis. I have adapted it to the ingredients I can find in China Town.
The key to this dish is to find the proper ingredients. This is what I chose: chilli bean sauce, garlic chilli bean sauce and a bean chilli condiment by Laoganma. The chilli bean sauce looks like a paste made of chilli and soy beans. It is dark red and smells spicy and sweet. The garlic chilli bean sauce looks like dark chestnut puree :) It smells really sweet and strange (to me). The bean chilli condiment from the very serious lady on the jar is my absolute favourite ingredient without which the dish will not be the same. It is made of very tiny and very black soy beans bathing in chilli oil.
I also use preferably young leeks or spring onions (scallions) which are added right at the end.
So basically you need to buy a big big chunk of pork belly (most of it is fat which will melt) and boil it for 30 minutes with salt, cassia bark, a few Sichuan peppers and a star anise. Then you let it cool and put it in the fridge for at least an hour or more preferably, overnight is great.
Once the pork is really cold, you can even put it a few minutes in the freezer to make it hard enough to be easily cut in very fine slices.
After having cut the pork belly into fine slices, heat the oil in a large frying pan, on high heat. When it starts to smoke, throw the pork in the pan and let it get a bit golden. You can throw a pinch of salt to help the frying process. (not too much, the sauces are already so salty…) When it’s done, chuck most of the oil. Keep about 2 tbsp of oil. Lower heat on medium. Tip the pan towards you, push the pork slices away from you and in the oil which will create a little bath, put a generous table spoon of each of the three sauces. Fry a little bit for 1 minute remember, medium heat, do not carbonize the sauces… talking from experience here…). Then stir the sauce and the slices together. Let it cook a few minutes on low heat while you are diagonally cutting the clean leeks into diamond looking slices.
And that’s it :)
You can add a bit of fresh coriander if you have some, a bit of grated fresh ginger, a teaspoon of sesame oil at the end. In the version pictured, I didn’t because I was in a hurry. I had cooked the pork the day before so it was very easy to cut. It was to die for…
- 1 kilo of pork belly
- Spices for boiling such as 1 stick cassia bark, 1 star anise, 1 tsp Sichuan peppers)
- 1 tbsp vegetable cooking oil (I use olive or canola or peanut or coconut)
- 1 tbsp Chilli bean sauce
- 1 tbsp Garlic chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp Bean chilli condiment by Laoganma
- 2 young leeks cleaned, roots cut (or 4 scallions)
- 2 scallions to finish
- Place pork belly in a pot, cut in two if too large and stack. Pour boiling water to cover. Add the spices and a tsp of rock salt (or any salt) Boil for 30 mins.
- Let pork cool down then put in the fridge for at least 2 hours. When you are ready to prepare the dish, you can even put it in the freezer to make it even easier to cut.
- Cut the pork belly in thin slices.
- Heat oil in pan on high heat. When it starts to smoke, tip the pork and stir. Keep stirring for a few minutes, throw a pinch of salt to help the frying process (just a little bit as the sauces are salty too). Stir until golden.
- Discard the excess oil and keep only 2 tbsp of oil in the pan.
- Lower heat on medium. Tip the pan towards you, push the pork slices away from you and in the oil which will create a little bath, put a generous table spoon of each of the three sauces. Fry a little bit for 1 minute. The stir the sauce and the slices together.
- Let it cook a few minutes on low heat while you are diagonally cutting the clean leeks into diamond looking slices.
- When you are about to serve, cut the scallions diagonally and sprinkle on top.