Sticky Szechuan Pork with Sesame Seeds

Duncan Baird Publishers
  • Yield: 4 servings

“This recipe is Chinese cooking at it’s best—the pork belly is cooked slowly with the spices, so it fully absorbs all their delicious Szechuan flavors, and is then coated in a rich sticky sauce. You can leave the skin of the gingerroot on when preparing this dish. Not only does this make the preparation quicker, but according to a friend of mine, Mr. Hung, in Chengdu, the skin adds a better flavor and is very healthy to eat. Frankly, less peeling can only be a good thing! Just make sure the ginger is fresh and that you give it a good wash before you slice it.”—John Gregory-Smith


2tablespoons vegetable oil
4-- dried red chiles, roughly chopped
6-- star anise
18ounces boneless pork belly, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
1-- (1-inch) piece gingerroot, roughly sliced
1teaspoon sea salt
1tablespoon rice vinegar
2tablespoons sugar
1tablespoon soy sauce
1tablespoon sesame seeds


  1. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When smoking hot, chuck in the dried red chiles and star anise and stir-fry 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the pork belly, ginger and salt and continue stir-frying 2 to 3 minutes longer until the pork starts to take on a little color.
  2. Pour 2 cups hot water over, which should just cover everything, and give it a good stir. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through and tender. Remove the pork from the wok with a slotted spoon and set aside. Using a spoon, skim off any excess fat from the surface of the liquid left in the wok.
  3. Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and add to the wok. Turn the heat up to high and cook, stirring continuously, 5 minutes, or until the sauce reduces by half.
  4. Return the pork to the wok, add the sesame seeds and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce becomes really thick and sticky and the pork is well coated. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over and serve immediately. 
Reprinted with permission from John Gregory-Smith’s Mighty Spice Cookbook (Duncan Baird Publishers, 2011).