Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Twice-cooked Pork (回鍋肉)

On every Chinese restaurant menu, there is always a "twice-cooked pork" dish and there are many versions of twice-cooked pork (回鍋肉).

The seasonings might be a tad different, e.g. some may be spicier than others and some might have fermented black beans, but in its basic concept, the dish is cooked pork belly that is sliced thin (that's the first cooking) and then stir-fried in a wok with more ingredients, usually with cabbage (that's the second cooking).

This is a recipe that we've adapted from Kian of Red Cook.
(Kian's recipe here: Twice-Cooked Pork and Garlic Shoots)

You may remember our epic undertaking of making White Pork with Garlic Sauce, Two Ways (蒜泥白肉).

Those three pieces of pork belly yielded quite a lot, so there was enough to make this dish as well. We cooked the pork belly by simply simmering them in water. After letting them cool, I sliced them thinly.

sliced cooked pork belly

Hot Bean Paste (辣豆瓣醬) and Sweet Bean Paste (甜麵醬)

I know, I know, these bean pastes are confusing. They're all bean pastes! One's best bet is to copy out the Chinese and match that to the label. We used these two types for this dish. As a point of reference, the sweet bean paste is similar to hoisin sauce.

There's our pork belly, some green onions and chile peppers. Another essential ingredient is cabbage.

To start, I heated some oil, then added some garlic and the cabbage. I cooked the cabbage for a bit.

I then added the pork belly, sweet bean paste and hot bean paste. I also added some rice vinegar, sesame oil and a touch of soy sauce to balance out the sweetness. The green onions and chile peppers went in last.

The dish made for a really satisfying accompaniment to rice. I found it a tad sweet for me, so I would add more hot bean paste than sweet bean paste next time (reflected in the recipe below). I would also probably like some red chile oil in the dish as well.

Oooh, red chile oil (紅油). Drool.

This is a good dish to experiment with bean sauces, or a combination of bean sauces. I like mine with a hot, spicy broad bean sauce (郫县豆瓣酱) -- so that's also definitely another option the next time we try twice-cooked pork.
Wiki: Pixian Doubanjiang (郫县豆瓣酱)

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Twice-cooked Pork (回鍋肉)

adapted from Red Cook's Twice-cooked Pork and Garlic Shoots

400g cooked pork belly, sliced thin

2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1 head cabbage, chopped into about the same size as the pork belly slices

1 Tablespoons sweet bean paste (甜麵醬)

2 Tablespoons hot bean paste (辣豆瓣醬)

1-2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 Tablespoon rice vinegar

soy sauce
green onions, sliced

chile peppers (optional)

To cook pork belly, place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to about an hour, until tender. Cool, then slice thinly.

In a wok or large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir for a few seconds, then add cabbage. Cook until the cabbage has softened slightly, a couple of minutes, or until they are almost to your desired doneness.

Add sliced pork belly, then the sweet and hot bean pastes. Stir and season with sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Feel free to adjust the ratio of the bean pastes according to taste.

When the pork belly is heated through and the cabbage is your desired doneness, add the green onions and chile peppers.

Serve hot with white rice.


  1. this is also the kind of dish that calls for plates after plates of rice heheheh. yumsss

  2. so perfect that the cabbage and pork have become one!

  3. I've met Kian in person and eaten some of his bbq pork buns and let me tell you they are awesome. This dish looks fantastic as well!

  4. We smoke the pork belly first in our smoker, then use it later in our stir-fries. That smoky flavor is awesome. Try it with hoisin sauce next time.

  5. i love twice cooked pork when done correctly. most of the places around us do it poorly!

  6. drool.... I love this dish. Also, you really need the 郫县豆瓣酱 for a authentic experience, says my dad. XD

  7. M Rita:
    Well, I think ALL dishes call for plates of plates of rice. Teehee.

    Hehe. Thanks!

    Lucky you!

    Oh wow... I don't think we've smoked anything; not really. Very impressive.

    I recall one place doing it really well... but the next time time I tried it, it wasn't as good. =(

    Ah, OK. That's good to know! I think we should all go to your parents' place for dinner! ;D


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