Known for its bold flavors and liberal use of spices including the controversial Sichuan peppercorns, China’s Sichuan province is the birthplace of global favorites that include Kung Pao chicken and Ma po tofu.
Sticky Sichuan pork is meant to exhibit all those bold flavors and spiciness. To make the dish, you’ll need Sichuan peppercorns and a few other seasonings and spices. Brown the pork, braise in broth then toss the meat in the sauce. Pretty simple but very tasty and aromatic.
Sticky Sichuan Pork
- ½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 kilogram pork belly cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon ginger chopped
- 1 bird's eye chili chopped (see notes after the recipe)
- 3 star anise
- 2 cups bone broth
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 drizzle sesame seed oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- scallions snipped
- Dry roast the Sichuan peppercorns in an oil-free pan until fragrant. Cool a bit then grind (a mortar and pestle is useful).
- Place the pork in a bowl. Add the ground Sichuan peppercorns, five-spice powder and salt. Mix well.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok, swirling to thinly coat as much of the cooking surface as possible.
- Add the pork and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
- Add the ginger and star anise. Continue cooking until the pork acquires a deeper color.
- Pour in the broth. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pork is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Note that you’ll need about a quarter cup of liquid in the pan to make the sticky sauce.
- Scoop out the pork and transfer to a plate or bowl. Keep hot.
- To the remaining liquid in the pan, add the soy sauce, honey and rice vinegar. Cook over high heat until reduced, thick and sticky. Watch the sauce closely as there is a very small window between sticky and burnt.
- Turn off the heat. Add the pork to the sauce. Drizzle in the sesame seed oil. Toss to coat every piece of pork with sauce.
- Tip the contents of the pan onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the sticky Szechuan pork with toasted sesame seeds and snipped scallions before serving.