The unique taste, vivid red color and the delicious taste of pork fat without the grease are what characterize Twice Cooked Pork and its popularity. As the name suggests, Twice Cooked Pork is a typical ‘re-pot’ recipe, meaning that it is cooked a second time.
Whenever we think of Sichuan food, we naturally think of Twice Cooked Pork. It is a highly valued and first rate Sichuan dish. My Twice Cooked Pork recipe will not only have you cooking it for your very next meal but I’m confident you’ll add it to your repertoire of favorite meals as you get hooked on its characteristic full flavor and seductive color.
Ingredients can vary, and in addition to garlic, you can also add peppers, onions, leeks, etc. to make the recipe your own.
Authentic Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork dishes are known for a layer of thick oil coating the pork giving it its flavor. However, this seeming over use of oil is heavy on the stomach for some people and prevents them from enjoying what is otherwise an excellent oriental meal, which is discouraging.
So, today I have bitten the bullet and am presenting my own lighter version of Twice Cooked Pork. You now have no reason to dig in and enjoy it!
Here is what you will need to make it:
- 300 g pork
- 50 g fresh black fungus
- When black fungus is fried it gives out a strong aroma, which is a perfect match for pork.
- 1 red chilli
- 40 g green onions, half for the boiled pork and half for the second cooking
- 1 x 2cm piece ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 star anise
- 20 whole red peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon Pi Xian bean paste
- 1 cucumber
- small amount peanut oil for cooking
Now, my students, you have probably noticed that several ingredients are missing from the traditional recipe: tempeh, soy sauce and more garlic.
Some recipes did not want such a deep colored dish, and some did not want the strong flavor produced by garlic so used cucumber to produce a lighter color and fresher taste.
Follow these steps for delicious Twice Cooked Pork:
Firstly, cook the pork.
The process of boiling is just to cook the meat so it can be sliced thinly for stir frying, which is the original method (‘twice cooked’) when making this dish. The key to cooking meat is to control the heat. Cut the pork into large pieces as shown below:
Add 1 liter of cold water to the pot, half the green onions, star anise, chilli, and pork. Heat slowly on low.
The purpose of cooking on low heat is to allow the heat to slowly penetrate the inner layer of pork, to ensure that the whole piece of meat is heated right through. Pork will color at 80 degrees Celsius, so if the water temperature is higher than that, you can leave it for a while.
To take out the guess work, I recommend using a kitchen thermometer to determine the water temperature. You can place a thermometer directly into the meat, which is especially useful when cooking a roast dinner. Digital display thermometers are the most accurate, and it is best to buy one with a temperature range over 100 degrees Celsius so you can measure oil temperature.
Do not buy the kind that is used for barbecue cooking as they are not as accurate.
Simmer the pork for 20 minutes, and check the inside color that it is cooked through. Note: If the meat is frozen, it must be fully thawed before cooking.
While you are waiting for the pork to cook, prepare the other ingredients. Wash the black fungus and dry with paper towels. Slice finely.
Peel the cucumber and cut it lengthwise into eight equal parts. Remove the seeds (but do not throw them out – they are too yummy and I just eat them!).
The cucumber seeds seep water when fried and must be removed or it will affect the final taste of the dish. The same goes for the fungus – it must be dry before you cook it.
Cut the cucumber into strips and chop into 2 inch pieces.
Slice the other half of the green onions, chilli, garlic and shred the ginger.
The third step is to cut the pork into thin slices.
In a flat non-stick pan, pour a small amount of peanut oil. The pork is very sticky, and so a small amount of oil is necessary; in a stainless-steel wok or pan you would need more oil.
Put the sliced pork into the pan and stir quickly until the fat on the meat becomes transparent.
Then add a tablespoon of Pi Xian bean paste and stir fry evenly.
Add the chopped ginger, garlic and chilli and stir fry evenly.
Add the sliced black fungus and stir fry until its aroma is released.
Toss in the cucumber and quickly stir fry to combine. Not too much or the cucumber will wilt and lose its crunchiness.
Lastly, season with salt and serve immediately.
This refreshing version of boiled pork, although a slight deviation from some of the traditional practices, has the same fresh, delicious, and addictive taste!
More importantly, though, it is less greasy than most traditional versions, so you don’t have to feel guilty or worry about your waistline when eating this one. Keep your perfect figure with this Twice Cooked Pork!