Chinese Cookbook: Mastering the Ultimate Sweet and Comforting Dish of Twice-Cooked Pork

Another week, another simple but epic Chinese recipe. In the last edition of Chinese Cookbook, we showed you how to perfect an easy recipe in the Chinese canon: stir-fried egg with Chinese cucumber. This time around, we’ve chosen something a little more complex, paying homage to one of the ultimate must-try dishes of all Chinese cuisine: twice-cooked pork.

Sticky, sweet, spicy, and oh-so indulgent, twice-cooked pork, or more literally, “return to pot pork” (回锅肉 huíguōròu), can be intimidating to both eat and cook for the uninitiated. After all, pork belly is not for the fainthearted, and most foreigners aren’t used to eating pork with a side of fat. However, the truth is that twice-cooked pork is a delicacy, and when made with precision and quality ingredients it is such a special and delicious dish to share with friends and family.

This specific version calls upon a little Sichuan spice to embolden the flavors, and there are a number of other variations that build on the original recipe, some of which can include squid and tofu. Here we stick to succulent cuts of pork belly.


  • 3 /4 lb. of lean pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoon sugar (rock sugar is preferred if you have it)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon dark vinegar
  • ½ cup chopped leek (optional)
  • ½ tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  • Whole bulb of garlic
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cups distilled water


  1. Start by using a sharp knife to scrap over the skin off your pork braised belly to rid the meat of any excess hair. Cut into 3/4 inch thick pieces.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the pork for a couple of minutes. This gets rid of impurities and starts the cooking process. Take the pork out of the pot and set aside.
  3. Over low heat, add oil and sugar to your wok. Melt the sugar slightly and add the pork, ginger, and peppercorns. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the pork is lightly browned.
  4. Turn the heat back down to low and add Shaoxing cooking wine, regular soy sauce, dark soy sauce, star anise, garlic, dark vinegar, cinnamon, and water. It’s very important to the color and flavor of this dish that you have both kinds of soy sauce.
  5. Throw in the chopped leek (optional), cover and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until pork is fork-tender. Every 5-10 minutes, stir to prevent burning and add more water if it gets too dry. If there is still a lot of visible liquid, uncover, turn up the heat, and stir continuously until the sauce has reduced to a glistening coating.
  6. Serve over a bowl of steamed white rice, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve!

Want to master other staples of Chinese cooking? Check out some of our favorites recipes here.

This article originally appeared on our sister site beijingkids.

Photos: Nicole Bonnah


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