There's a Sichuan restaurant called Little Pepper in Flushing, Queens that has amazing Sichuan food. One of my favorite things on the menu after their explosively spicy and delicious hot pot is their hui guo rou (twice cooked pork). Traditionally it is pork belly that is first boiled and then fried in a sizzling hot wok with lots of spicy/beany flavorings and baby leeks, served with white rice. We didn't have any pork belly. Actually, we thought we had pork belly, but it turned out we had thinly sliced Kurobuta (aka Berkshire) pork loin. And Alex had originally decided that we should make Fuchsia Dunlop's hong shao rou (red-braised pork) from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province, but seeing as we had pork loin and not pork belly we had to completely re-think our plan. I had originally suggested cooking hui guo rou, but Alex had shot me down in favor of the hong shao rou. Granted, we were missing a few ingredients for Fuchsia Dunlop's hui guo rou from Land of Plenty, but since when has that ever stopped us? Besides, given that we were using thinly sliced Kurobuta pork loin rather than pork belly, why not improvise a little more? We had the Korean equivalent of the Chinese bean paste and Korean hot pepper paste, so I threw those instead of the sweet bean paste and the chili bean paste that the recipe usually requires. And when it wasn't spicy enough I threw in some Korean red pepper flakes for good measure. So I guess you could call this the Korean-Chinese-American version of hui guo rou.
Whatever you call this - it was a really good meal. We were a little nervous about the amount of improvising we did, but in the end it was delicious. I would say the main difference between this version and the one served at Little Pepper (aside from the fact that they used pork belly and we used pork loin), is that this version is beanier. I know that sounds weird, but I don't mean beany in a bad way. It's quite good. The version at Little Pepper has more sweetness and spiciness than ours, and less deep and savory bean flavor. But both versions are delicious. And I have to say that I am super happy with our dinner. It was tasty and not only that, since it's a stir fry, it was ready in under 15 minutes. Yay!
Recipe after the jump!
Hui Guo Rou (Twice-Cooked Pork)
1 1/3 lb. Kurobuta pork loin, thinly sliced
5 medium leeks, sliced in half and then into 1/4-inch wide half moons, thoroughly cleaned
3 tbsp peanut oil
3 tbsp Korean hot pepper paste
1 1/2 tbsp Korean ssamjang
2 tbsp Chinese fermented black beans
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp Korean red pepper flakes
Heat wok over medium-high heat. Add oil. Once oil is hot, add pork and stir-fry until the pork is opaque, about 4 minutes. Push the pork to one side of the wok. Tip the Korean hot pepper paste into the wok. Stir fry until the oil is fragrant and red, about 30 seconds. Add Korean ssamjang and fermented black beans. Stir fry until fragrant, about 30 additional seconds. Stir-fry pork pieces in bean mixture until pork is well-coated in bean paste. Add soy sauce, sugar, and Korean red pepper flakes. Stir fry to combine. Add salt to taste (if necessary). Add leeks. Stir to toss until leeks are just cooked and coated in sauce.