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Double-Cooked Pork Szechuan Style {Recipe}

By April 12, 2016 ,

Weekends are made for enjoying good food. Last weekend I roasted a slab of pork belly and thanks to the oven gods, the roast turned out beautiful - The crackling was golden-brown and crackled with every bite, whilst the meat remained moist and tender. It was a big hit with the mister and all-round happy days with plenty leftover.

What's a good cook to do with leftover pork belly? Double-cooked pork belly in Szechuan-style, that's what. The English name of this recipe is literally translated from the Chinese name: "回锅肉". Derived from the cooking process, "回" means "to return," meaning that the pork should be cooked twice. The usual cooking method is blanching the pork belly before stir-frying, but I personally prefer to cook this dish with roast pork. The crackling takes in the flavours of sauces and spices really well, and makes it the perfect dish to go with a bowl of steamed rice.

There are many variations to this dish, mainly the side ingredients that go with it. I prefer to use spring onion, onion, minced ginger and garlic. Since dish presentation and colour is commonly considered one of the five big factors in Chinese cooking philosophy, capsicum is mostly used together in this dish, which contributes to a vibrant colour that is appetising and delicious.

All the ingredients are then cooked with spicy bean paste (douban jiang) and a dash of dark soy sauce. If you like the numbing peppercorn flavour found in szechuan cuisine, you may add a pinch (just a small pinch!) of powdered or crushed szechuan peppercorn and prepare some chilli oil (homemade or store-bought) to go with it.

It took me only 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes' preparation time) to get this dish ready. The mister loved every bit of it and almost licked the serving bowl dry!

Double-Cooked Pork Belly, Szechuan Style (回锅肉)

500g of pork belly (roasted or blanched), then sliced thinly
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1cm ginger, minced
1/2 brown onion, cut to 1cm in length
1/2 red capsicum, cubed
3 sprigs of spring onion, cut to 3cm in length

1/2 - 1tbsp spicy bean paste
a dash of dark soy sauce
a pinch of szechuan peppercorn, crushed (optional)

Homemade Chilli Oil 
1 red chilli, deseeded and julienne, or
a handful of dried red chilli, deseeded and cut into 3cm pieces
1/8 cup of cooking/ vegetable oil

Prepare the homemade chilli oil by heating the cooking/ vegetable oil on medium heat in a wok. When the wok is hot, gently fry the red chillies until fragrant, or until the oil turns orange/red. Take note to not burn the chillies, otherwise the oil may taste bitter. Pour the oil and chillies into a bowl and let it rest. The longer it rests, the redder the oil will be. In the meantime, prepare the dry ingredients.

Heat 1tsp of cooking oil in the wok. On medium high heat, fry the garlic and ginger for a few minutes or until fragrant. Then, add the red capsicum and half of the spring onions, fry for another 3 minutes or until fragrant.

Add the pork belly to the wok, fry for half a minute. Add the spicy bean paste, fry for a minute. Then, add a dash of dark soy sauce, combine and fry for another minute or two. Place the chilli oil and the rest of the scallion, then fry for a minute. Lastly, turn the heat down to medium, then cover the wok and simmer for another minute, until the spring onions are wilted.

Serve immediately with steamed rice on the side.

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