Twice cooked pork (sometimes also referred to as double-cooked pork belly, or Hui Guo Rou ) is a dish from Sichuan cuisine that is very popular in China. It is made with pork belly that is first cooked in water until almost cooked, then for the second stir-frying process, the slices are fried with garlic sprouts, green peppers, and some of the most important Sichuan seasonings. Since it is slightly salty so should be served with plain rice and noodles.
What's twice-cooked pork
Twice cooked pork is a classic Sichuan dish cooked with a unique Sichuan cooking method- double cooking or Hui Guo (回锅). So the other name for this dish is doubled-cooked pork or Hui Guo Rou.
The origins of twice-cooked pork are believed to date back to the Song Dynasty when this pork is mainly cooked as a savory but not spicy one. Along with the importing of chili pepper and the creation of doubanjiang, twice-cooked pork was formed as a spicy and savory stir-frying dish and it obtained great popularity since then.
It will go through two stages of cooking.
- Firstly, large chunks of pork belly are braised in clean water for around 20 to 30 minutes until soft and well-cooked.
- Then it is sliced thinly and stir-fried with seasonings and side ingredients.
So the name "twice cooked pork belly " is after the cooking method, quite similar to Sichuan water-boiled dishes or dry frying dishes like Sichuan dry frying green beans.
Why do we twice cook?
It is a very traditional way of cooking pork belly with this method, so it seems not to be a question. But why do we cook pork belly twice? I get some of my inspiration.
Pork belly needs a longer cooking time, compared with other cuts. So, if we cook it directly, the overlong cooking process may turn the pork into something dry and quite hard to chew. Cooking it first can shorten the stir-frying process to an acceptable time and thus creating a lovely sticky, soft texture.
What does twice-cooked pork taste like?
When seeing the pictures, you may think that twice-cooked pork is quite hot. But the answer is no. Like most of the other Sichuan dishes like mapo tofu, dan dan noodles, twice-cooked pork has a well-balanced flavor of savory, aromatic, and a little bit hot. The red color comes from doubanjiang, which has a milder hot taste.
What is twice-cooked pork made of
The main ingredient of this dish is well-marbled pork belly, aromatics (garlic, ginger, and scallion), fresh peppers, garlic sprouts, doubanjiang, douchi, and light soy sauce.
Pork belly --is the most popular ingredient in Chinese cooking. It has a good fat-to-meat ratio that makes it ideal for stir-frying.
Aromatics (garlic, ginger, and scallion) -- are used to add flavors and aromatics to the dish.
Fresh peppers -- can be any type of pepper but the most common ones used are green peppers. If you prefer a hotter version, replace green pepper with hotter peppers.
Garlic sprouts -- are the young shoots of garlic plants and have a milder flavor than regular garlic.
Doubangjiang -- is a type of chili bean paste that is commonly used in Sichuan cuisine. It is considered the soul of Sichuan cuisine. More details are here.
Douchi -- are fermented black soybeans that add a salty and smoky flavor to the dish. Details are here.
Sichuan peppercorn - gives the dish its characteristic numbing spice.
Sugar- helps to combine the flavors better.
Light soy sauce -- is used to add saltiness and umami flavor.
Different types of twice-cooked pork differ locally mainly concerning the side vegetables used in the dish. Garlic sprout is the most popular side ingredient in China. Garlic sprouts are the young shoots of garlic plants and have a milder flavor than regular garlic, and also can add a lovely crunch texture to the dish. This pork stir fry can be cooked with fresh green peppers, garlic sprouts, cabbages, and even potatoes. So you can substitute garlic sprouts, with cabbages, and potatoes.
Boil the pork belly
Place pork belly in a large pot with enough cold water to cover it. Add 2 green onions and 4-5 Sichuan peppercorns (you can skip them if you don't have some by hand). Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. If you are cooking a larger amount, cut the pork belly into 15cm sections. Transfer out and set aside to cool down. Then cut the pork belly into 1mm thick slices.
Prepare the aromatics and side ingredients
Cut the garlic sprouts and leaves into 1.5-inch sections. Cut green peppers, and chop the ginger, garlic, and green onions. Roughly chop dou-chi too.
Heat up around 1 teaspoon of oil in a wok (not too much, otherwise the dish might be over greasy), and fry the pork belly for around 1-2 minutes (Note 2)until they begin to lose oil and are slightly brown and curled.
Transfer the pork slices out and leave oil only, fry doubanjiang over slow fire until the oil turns red. Add ginger, garlic, and scallion until aroma. Place dou-chi in, fry for another half minute. Keep slow fire when adding the seasonings.
Return pork slices and give a big stir fry to combine well. Add garlic sprouts, green peppers, and sugar, and pour in light soy sauce over the edge of the wok. Give everything a big stir fry to mix well. Serve immediately. Don't kill the freshness.
- it is important to use a good quality pork belly. Look for a stripe of pork belly that has a good marbling of fat and meat. This will result in good flavors and good shape.
- If you have enough time, pre-cook the pork belly first and then wait until 100% cooled down before cutting. It will make the cutting process much easier.
- Since both doubanjiang, dou-chi and light soy sauce are salty ingredients, if you are watching out for the salt intake, you can decrease the amounts of those three ingredients. There is no need for extra salt.
- Adding sugar can help to combine all the flavors together. But it is totally optional.
Is twice-cooked pork healthy?
Although it is very delicious, I don't think it is a healthy dish. Pork belly has lots of fat and the dish uses lots of seasonings. If you are making a meal plan, you can use blanched vegetables, healthy salad, or soup as a balancer.
What to serve with
Can I reheat twice cooked pork?
Sometimes we often have leftovers and you may wonder whether you can reheat the twice-cooked pork or not. The good news is yes. It even tastes better on the second day after reheating.
You can reheat it in a microwave, or middle fire for 1 minute. Or you can use a wok to stir fry it once again.
Twice Cooked Pork
- 300 g pork belly
- Sichuan peppercorn
- 1 small thumb ginger
- water to cover
- 2 green onions
- 1 tbsp. shaoxing wine
Stir Frying Ingredients
- Place pork belly in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Add 2 green onions, ginger, sichuan peppercorn and Shaoxing wine. Bring to boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. If you are cooking a larger amount, cut the pork belly into 15cm sections. Transfer out and set aside to cool down. Then cut the pork belly into 1mm thick slices.
- Cut the garlic sprouts and leaves into 1.5-inch sections. Cut green peppers, chop the ginger, garlic, and green onions. Roughly chop dou-chi too.
- Heat up around 1 teaspoon of oil in a wok (not too much, otherwise the dish might be over greasy), and fry the pork belly for around 1-2 minutes (Note 2)until they begin to lose oil and are slightly brown and curled.
- Transfer the pork slices out and leave oil only, fry doubanjiang over slow fire until the oil turns red. Add ginger, garlic, and scallion until aroma. Place dou-chi, fry for another half minute. Keep slow fire when adding the seasonings.
- Return pork slices and give a big stir fry to combine well. Add garlic sprouts, green peppers, and sugar, and pour in light soy sauce over the edge of the wok. Give everything a big stir fry to mix well. This process should be fast so the freshness won't be killed.
- Serve with steamed rice.