Twice cooked pork (simplified Chinese: 回锅肉; traditional Chinese: 回鍋肉; pinyin: Huí Guō Ròu; literally “return pot meat”; also called double cooked pork) is a well-known Sichuan Chinese dish.
The Sichuan people have a tradition of enjoying a feast every 1st and 15th of the lunar months, with this dish as the main course. It was offered to the spirits of their ancestors as a rich and flavorful reminder of their lives on earth, but after the “spirit food” was consumed by the hungry ghosts, the physical food was eaten by the people in attendance.
The dish’s ingredients includes fatty pork, which is simmered then sliced and stir fried with vegetables such as cabbage, bell peppers, onions, or scallions with a sauce that may include Shaoxing rice wine, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, chili bean paste and tianmianjiang bean paste.
Garlic shoots are the very tender young greens sprouting out from common garlic. They have the same distinct pungent garlic taste but are sweeter and not as strong as the bulbs. They are used throughout China in many different types of dishes. However, the Sichuanese have a special fondness for them. Many traditional Sichuan dishes incorporate garlic shoots as a flavoring agent.
However, the best-known classic dish that relies on garlic shoots is none other than Twice Cooked Pork. This dish traditionally relied on Sichuan hot bean paste and sweet wheaten paste for the sauce, and garlic shoots were used to round out the spicy pungent taste.
Twice Cooked Pork was introduced to America during the 1970’s when Sichuan and Hunan dishes were first made available.
Hoisin sauce was readily available back then, but not the traditional sauces. The use of hoisin sauce in the U.S. version of the dish is the origin of many of the “brown sauce” dishes we now find in so many takeout Chinese restaurants. In my recipe, we are going old-school!
Twice cooking is a generic term for a cooking technique. The name “twice cooked” refers to the fact that meat is precooked before being stir-fried. This technique is excellent for making use of tough meat in a stir-fry dish.
For best results, it is common to use cuts of meat with a high fat content. The most often used meats are pork belly, beef shin, and lamb leg meat. The meat is precooked by boiling in water until tender, cooled, cut into very thin slices and then used in the final stir-fry.
I’ve modified the original recipe a bit, but not much – this is a classic for a reason, Citizens! 🙂 I’ve also included the Chinese characters for the more unusual ingredients – just show them to your local Asian grocer and he/she will help you find what you need.
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