Monthly Archives: November 2015

Recipe: Twice-Cooked Pork(回锅肉)

Twice-Cooked Pork(回锅肉 hui guo rou, pronounced “hway gwuh roh”, literally “return pot meat”)is one of the most famous Sichuanese dishes! It is called “twice-cooked” in English and “return to the pot” in Chinese, because it is cooked twice. First, it is simmered in water for a while until just cooked. Then, it is cooled down and sliced thinly. Lastly, it is stir-fried in a wok with seasonings. It’s very delicious! 🙂

  
For this recipe, you need a trio of fermented bean seasonings. If you are not used to East Asian food, you may be thinking, “ewwwww!” But fermented bean seasonings are extremely tasty and add tons of delicious flavor and umami. You may already know some fermented bean sauces: soy sauce and miso! So here are the 3 seasonings you need, and you will find them at a Chinese grocery store.

  
1. Paste of Fermented Salted Fava Beans with Dried Red Chilies from Pi County (郫县豆瓣 pi xian dou ban, pronounced “pee syehn doh bun”, literally “pi county bean segment”)

This paste, which I call Pi County Chili Bean Paste for short, is one of the most important Sichuanese seasonings and essential to get a home-style Sichuan taste. I also used it in my Mapo Tofu recipe and much more. I use the official paste from Pi County, which is necessary for the authentic flavor.

2. Sweet Paste of Wheat and Soybean Flours (甜面酱 tian mian jiang, pronounced “tyehn myehn dzyahng”, literally “sweet flour sauce”)

I call this one Sweet Flour Paste, but it has many other names too. It has a slightly sweet and salty flavor. It is used not only in Sichuan cuisine but also in northern Chinese cuisines. This is the traditional sauce served with Beijing Duck. I also used it in my Fried Sauce Noodles (zhajiangmian) recipe.

3. Fermented Dry Black Soybeans (豆豉 dou chi, pronounced “doh chzh”)

These tasty beans are also found in my Mapo Tofu recipe. They are used in Sichuan cuisine and also much of souther Chinese cuisine. I use the ones from Yangjiang in Guangdong Province. They are fermented with ginger.

After you have these seasonings, you will need some pork belly, which is the star of the dish! Pork belly is very fatty. It’s what bacon is made of. It’s very tasty, as long as it is cooked well. Since I don’t like a super fatty texture, I usually fry it longer to render out more fat, and it tastes much better that way.

This time I bought pork belly from my local Costco, which now sells pork belly! Yay! I used to have to go super far to an Asian grocery store, but now Costco sells it too.

Let’s start!

Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop, my favorite Sichuan cookbook! 🙂

Ingredients: (Serves about 3-4, with a stir-fried vegetable side dish and/or a soup, and cooked rice)

3/4 to 1 lb fresh pork belly, in 1 piece

water (to cover pork)

optional for boiling pork: 3-4 thin slices of ginger, 1-2 green onions cut into 2 inch lengths, 1-2 tbsp Shaoxing wine or sake etc., 1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp cooking oil

vegetables: choose what you like: 1 small onion cut into squares, 1 small carrot sliced thinly diagonally (optional), about 2 cups cabbage cut into squares, 1/2 bell pepper cut into squares

4 green onions, sliced diagonally (in Sichuan, garlic stems are commonly used, but I do not have any), optionally separate white and green parts

1 tbsp Pi County chili bean paste

1/2 tbsp sweet flour paste

2 tsp fermented black soybeans, lightly rinsed

1 tsp sugar

1/2 to 1 tsp dark soy sauce

Directions:

1. Add pork in one piece, water to cover, and optionally ginger, green onions, wine, and/or salt, to a pot that can fit everything. You can curl the pork to fit it in the pot.

2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then turn to medium and simmer for 25 minutes. This should just cook the pork. (In 20 minutes, it was just slightly pink inside, so 25 should be fine.)

Meanwhile, you can cut all the vegetables.

3. Now take out the pork and add to a bowl of ice water to cool.

4. Let’s stir-fry the vegetables! Heat a wok over high heat.

5. When hot, add 1 tbsp oil.

6. Add the onion and stir-fry for 1 minute. It will just turn slightly translucent. I added 1 pinch of salt also.

7. Add the cabbage, carrot, and/or bell pepper. Stir-fry for 2-3 more minutes until the vegetables are al dente, cooked but still crisp.

8. Take out the vegetables to a plate and set aside.

9. When the pork is cool, take it out to a cutting board. Slice it thinly. If you aren’t so good at slicing, this is quite challenging! Just do your best 🙂

10. Heat the wok again over high heat. When hot, add 1 tbsp oil.

11. Add all of the sliced pork. Stir-fry.

12. After a minute or so, the pork will release water. And it will start simmering. Let it simmer until dry.

13. When it is dry, you will hear the rendered fat crakling. You can now lower heat to medium.

14. Continue stir-frying for a few minutes. The pork will start to brown and become very fragrant, a little crispy, and tasty. More fat will render out.

15. When you think it is ready (different people like different cooking times, I like it when the pork is a little browned and very fragrant), turn the heat to low, and put the pork to one side of the wok.

16. Hold the handle of the wok (be careful!) and tilt the wok so the fat collects to the other side. Use a spoon or something to scoop out most of the rendered fat into a small bowl. This is lard! It is very tasty. Use it to stir-fry vegetables. Leave 1-2 tbsp of fat inside the wok.

17. Now spread the pork to all sides of wok, leaving a well of oil in the center. 

18. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the chili bean paste to the oil.

19. Use the spatula to break the chili bean paste and distribute it through the oil. It will smell very fragrant and tasty, and the oil will become red.

20. Now add the sweet flour paste and rinsed fermented black soybeans. Combine them well with the chili bean paste and stir-fry 5 more seconds so they are fragrant too.

21. Now stir-fry everything together for 1 minute, coating the pork in the fried sauces. YUM!

22. Add the sugar and dark soy sauce. Add the white part of the green onion if you separated it. Stir-fry for 1 more minute.

23. Now add the previously stir-fried vegetables and stir-fry 1 more minute to combine everything well.

24. Lastly add the green part of the green onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds to combine.

25. Turn off the heat and put everything onto a plate! Yay! You are finished!

Serve with a stir-fried green leafy vegetable dish and/or a soup, and cooked rice. Enjoy!

  
Now, how to make a soup? Here we go!

If you simmered the pork with ginger, green onion, wine, and salt, then you can use it as a broth!

Strain the broth to remove some of the fat and the foam. Then add some vegetable pieces like sliced carrot, etc. Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are cooked. Tada! You have a refreshing and simple vegetable soup to serve with the pork 🙂

Enjoy! 😀

Recipe: Pickled Long Beans with Ground Pork(肉末豇豆)includes recipe for 24-hour pickled long beans!

Pickled Long Beans with Ground Pork(肉末豇豆, rou mo jiang dou, pronounced “eroh myuh dzyahng doh”, literally by character: “meat end cowpea bean”, strangely, this recipe is not made with cowpeas, but it has that name)is a typical Sichuan dish found in homes and restaurants throughout the province. Traditionally, it is made with long beans that have been made into traditional Sichuanese pickles(泡菜)but the way I am making, I am using 24-hour lighter pickles instead. So my version is less sour and less salty compared to the original. 🙂

This stir-fry is so delicious, with crispy beans and tasty pork. It has a fresh and light flavor with a touch of chili and Sichuan peppercorn. It’s also very easy to make!

First, we have to make the 24 hour pickled beans. Recipe adapted from a Chinese vegetarian food blog my mom sent me 🙂

You need Chinese long beans, which look sort of like green beans, but extremely long and darker green. You can also substitute regular green beans.

Get about 1/2 lb of the beans (about 250 grams). Wash the beans well, then soak in water with a few pinches of salt for 30 minutes. Then drain and dry the beans well (traditionally under the sun). Dice the beans into small pieces (about 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch), then add into a glass jar. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt (about 2.5 grams).

Add 2 cups (500 ml) water to a pot and add 1/2 star anise and 1/2 tsp Sichuan pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes. Then, immediately pour over the beans in the glass jar. Add 1 tsp Chinese distilled liquor (bai jiu), or vodka, or gin. Cover with a lid very tightly, shake a little.

Put the glass jar upside-down into a larger glass jar. Then pour more boiling water into the large glass jar. This seals the pickle jar from air. (In the traditional Sichuan pickled vegetable clay jar, there is an inside layer to add the hot water.) This may sound a little confusing, so here is a picture of my glass jar set-up:

  
After this, leave it for 24 hours and you have Sichuan pickled long beans, although a lot less sour and a lot less salty than the original. To make it more sour, perhaps leave it longer, maybe 36 or 48 hours even. (I haven’t tried it yet, but with 24 hours it was not sour yet.) You can store them in the fridge and eat the pickle with rice. However, you should not keep it for longer than 3 days because it will lose its crunchyness.

Now, time to make the stir-fry!

Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop and Madame Huang’s Kitchen blog.

Ingredients:

1 batch 24 hour pickled long beans (made from 1/2 lb or 250g fresh long beans)

1/2 lb (or 250g) ground pork

1 tsp light soy sauce

1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine

2-3 pinches salt

1 tbsp minced garlic (optional)

1 tbsp minced ginger (optional)

1 tbsp minced green onion (optional)

2 tbsp cooking oil

1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

4 dried red chili peppers, cut in half and seeds removed

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

more salt and soy sauce to taste if necessary

Directions:

1. Drain the pickled long beans and remove the star anise. You can also try to remove the Sichuan peppercorns.

2. Add soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and salt to the ground pork, mix well.

3. Heat a wok over high heat.

4. When hot, add oil. Lower heat to medium and add Sichuan peppercorns if using. Fry for 1-2 minutes to allow their flavor to infuse.

5. Add chilies and fry for 30 seconds or so until fragrant.

6. Turn heat to high, adding garlic, ginger, and green onion, if using, and fry for 1-2 minutes. If not using, do not fry longer and skip this step.

7. Add ground pork and use the wok spatula to break it up into tiny pieces while cooking it.

8. Stir-fry pork until fully cooked and water is dried up, leaving oil. This should take a few minutes.

9. Add the drained pickled beans. Add sugar. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes to heat up and lightly cook the beans.

10. Taste and add salt and/or soy sauce to taste. I added about 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce for a slightly darker color.

11. Turn off the heat and add sesame oil, stir well.

12. Transfer stir-fry to a plate and serve with rice. Enjoy! 😀

  
I hope you like this recipe! If you have any questions about the process, please comment below. 🙂