Szechuan Twice-Cooked Pork (Hui Guo Rou)

Twice cooked pork
Chikei Yung / Getty Images
Ratings (9)
  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Hui Guo Rou is a traditional Szechuan pork dish where the pork is cooked twice, hence the names "twice-cooked pork" and "double-cooked pork." The meat is first simmered in a broth of water, rice wine, and ginger, and then stir-fried along with vegetables, chile paste, sweet bean paste, and dark soy sauce. Feel free to add a bit of the seasoned pork boiling water to the vegetables during stir-frying for added flavor.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound lean pork
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 leek
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (for stir-frying)
  • 1 tablespoon chile paste (or chile paste with garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet bean paste (available in Asian markets)
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • Optional: salt or granulated sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large saucepan, place pork and add enough water to cover; bring to a boil.

  3. Add the rice wine and ginger, and cook for 20 minutes.

  4. Remove the pork from the broth and set aside to cool.

  5. Cut across the grain into very thin slices about 2-inches long.

  6. While the pork is boiling, prepare the vegetables. Cut the leek into chunks; cut the red bell pepper in half, remove the seeds, and cut into chunks.

  7. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan over medium-high to high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped leek; cook for 1 minute.

  8. Then add the red bell pepper.

  9. Push the vegetables to the side and add the chile paste to the middle of the wok.

  10. Heat briefly, then add the sweet bean paste, soy sauce, and the pork slices.

  11. Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt or granulated sugar, if desired. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes to make sure everything is heated through.

  12. Serve hot.

Tips and Variations

This recipe calls for lean pork, but you want to make sure it is not too lean or else the meat will end up driying out. In Sichuan, cooks use pork rump to make Hui Guo Rou, but this cut of pork is not that easy to find in the U.S. since it is often used to make ham. Pork belly is a good substitution, however, it can be too fatty, often sold as 75 percent fat to 25 percent lean; you want about a 50/50 lean-to-fat ratio. If you cannot find this at your supermarket or local butcher, you may want to try a Chinese food market.  

To make the pork easier to slice thinly, you can refrigerate the meat after it has cooled. This allows the pork to firm up a bit; you can even freeze it if you like, which will make it much easier to cut it into very thin pieces. If you plan ahead and simmer the pork beforehand, and then refrigerate or freeze, you will be ready to make Szechuan twice-cooked pork on a busy weeknight when time is short.

Chinese sweet bean paste is dark brown or black in color and thick and smooth in texture. It can have a mild, sweet, or savory flavor. It is called “tiánmiànjiàng” or “tiánjiàng”  in Chinese and although is referred to as sweet bean paste, it is mostly made up of fermented wheat flour (there is almost 20 times the amount of fermented wheat flour as there is soybean). There are many types of sweet bean sauces but those that are high quality do not add sugar; the fermentation of starches is what contributes the sweetness.