Hui guo rou has a literal translation of ‘return-to-the-pot meat,’ which means that the meat is, well, returned to the pot, meaning that it’s cooked with two methods. First, the pork belly is boiled, then it is thinly sliced and sauteed with leeks and other ingredients. Hui guo rou is not one of the dishes that made it on my mom’s menus, but I remember first eating it (or at least remembering its name) sometime after college, and really enjoying it. When I found out that its roots were in Sichuan, it made sense, because I have not tried a Sichuan dish I don’t love.
When I called my grandma (my mom was in Europe) to ask how to make it, she confirmed that this was a 家常菜(jia1chang2cai4), which I translate as a homey-style dish, or home-cooking type of dish. Another vote for this dish!
Can you go wrong with pork belly? Or doufugan? Or leek? Hmmm. probably not.
Hui Guo Rou
serves 3-4 as part of a multi-dish meal with rice
8-9 oz pork belly
1 Tbsp shaoxing wine
1 thin slice ginger
1/2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 Tbsp pi xian dou ban jiang (郫縣豆瓣醬) (chili bean paste)
1 1/2 tsp tian mian jiang (甜面醬), (sweet flour paste or sweet bean paste)
5 oz dou fu gan (豆腐干), (extra firm tofu), sliced into thin strips
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1-1.5 cups leeks sliced thinly on the diagonal
1) In a saucepan, add the pork belly and enough water to cover the pork. Add the wine and ginger, bring to a boil, and simmer until the pork is cooked through, about 20 minutes. You can tell if the pork is done if you can poke a chopstick through it, and it will also feel firm to the touch.
2) Cool the pork belly, then slice as thinly as possible. Blot the pork with a towel or paper towel as much as possible to prevent splattering in the next steps.
3) Add cold oil and the peppercorns to a wok or pan, and heat the oil on the lowest heat setting. When you can smell the fragrance of the peppercorns, cook for 10 or so more seconds, then use a slotted spoon to remove the peppercorns.
4) Add the pork belly to the now hot oil, and cook on low to medium heat until the pork starts to render its fat, and the slices are starting to brown at the edges.
5) Take the pork out, but leave the oil in the pan.
6) Add the pi xian dou ban jiang and tian miang jiang, and stir constantly to heat the sauces. Add the dou fu gan and saute to get the dou fu gan heated through and somewhat browned.
7) Add the pork back in and mix thoroughly with the dou fu gan. Add soy sauce, mix together with everything, and taste: The sauce should be salty and a little spicy. If it tastes a bit harsh or bitter, add about 1/2 tsp sugar to balance it out.
8) Lastly, add the leeks, and saute everything together until the leeks are just cooked through.
-When slicing, try to get the pork sliced as thinly as possible, and get the dou fu gan pieces to match the pork dimensions if possible.
-You can use rice wine if you don’t have Shaoxing, but Shaoxing is preferred.
-If you don’t have tian mian jiang, you could use 1 tsp sugar + 1 1/2 tsp dou ban jiang (豆瓣酱)
-If you can’t find the pi xian dou ban jiang, you can just use la dou ban jiang
-Tim wanted the pork extra crispy, so I let it brown for a long time. He said that it tasted like Chinese bacon, which is a good thing coming from him.
-If you seek a vegetarian version, or happen to only have tofu, try this twice cooked tofu out!