Twice Cooked Pork
Chengdu: City of Gastronomy #4
Huí Guō Ròu -- 回锅肉
Pork belly simmered and then fried with scallions with some special Sichuan sauce.
I can’t swing a dead pig without hitting a restaurant that serves hui guo rou.
I’d say this is one of the top 5 most popular Sichuan dishes in the world. In this video, I decided to have it in a fly restaurant. Fly restaurants are popular bare-bones food joints. The word “fly” refers to the customers coming in and out, buzzing like flies. Although, some claim that the term refers to the hygiene in the restaurant.
In English, this dish is always called twice cooked pork, but the actual translation is more like “again pot pork”.
To make it, a piece of pork belly is simmered for a little while along with some spices. It’s then cooled in the fridge so it’s easy to thinly slice. The thin slices are thrown into a wok with some vegetables -- maybe peppers, cabbage, onions, but usually some scallions -- and a sauce is added, which includes a spicy fermented bean paste called dou ban jiang. It adds an umami taste. Tian mian jiang -- literally sweet wheat sauce -- is sometimes added for some sweetness.
In a great twice-cooked pork, the balance of the dou ban jiang and the tian mian jiang is what really makes this dish special — that and pork fat.
I find that a lot of westerner don’t like it the pork slices. Sometimes it’s referred to as fatty pork, which isn’t that appealing of a name, but the truth is it’s made with the same cut as bacon. And people love bacon!
Pork fat is amazing, but of course it’s terrible for you. That being said, I did read about a 117 year old lady who claimed her key to long life was eating twice cooked pork three times a day.
Twice cooked pork has been around for around 1000 years. That’s right around the time pizza is thought to have been invented. It’s a classic Sichuan dish that will be around for generations -- even generations of 117 year olds.
Where to Eat Twice Cooked Pork in Chengdu
This is one of my favorite restaurants in Chengdu. They have a slightly different version of twice cooked pork that they call 乡村回锅肉 -- Xiāngcūn huíguōròu, which means rustic twice cooked pork.
Restaurant: 明婷饭店 -- Míng tíng fàndiàn -- Ming Ting Hotel
Address: 外曹家巷26号附16号 -- 16 Caojia Alley
Other things to try:
Tofu and pig brain -- 豆腐脑花 -- Dòufu nǎo huā
Glass noodles with cabbage -- 粉丝莲白 -- Fěnsī lián bái
Jelly noodles and beef -- 米凉粉烧牛肉 -- Mǐ liángfěn shāo niúròu
Iron plate eggplant -- 铁板茄子 -- Tiě bǎn qiézi