Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuschia Dunlop.
- 3 pounds pork cheeks
- 1- to 2-inch piece ginger
- 2 scallions
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons Sichuan-style chili bean paste
- 5 cups stock or water
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 Tsao Kor (cao guo) (false cardamom), optional
- Cilantro to garnish
- A few tablespoons cooking oil, for browning
- Salt and pepper for sprinkling
In the skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Make sure pork cheeks are dry and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Add them to the pan, taking care not to crowd the meat. Cook until the surface is browned on both sides, about 4 minutes per side, flipping only once or twice so as not to disturb browning. Remove with tongs as cheeks are browned; set aside.
In the sauté pan, heat a few more tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add chili bean paste and stir-fry for 30 seconds until paste starts to smell fragrant. Add stock, wine, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, and spices. Bring liquid to a boil; then turn the heat down and add pork cheeks.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Cover the pan with pork cheeks, either with a lid or foil, and braise in the oven for at least 2.5 to 3 hours, until cheeks are very tender. Allow meat to cool and settle in liquid, refrigerating liquid overnight. The next day, scrape off fat and reheat gently. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice and vegetables.
12-inch or larger skillet, large shallow pan for braising