Pork recipes for the Year of the Pig are what we have here for you – one delicious pork dish for every month of the Chinese New Year, because what better way is there to celebrate an auspicious year of health, wealth and happiness than to pig out on porky goodness?
Chinese New Year is celebrated on Tuesday 5th February, although many Chinese, and locals here in Southeast Asia of Chinese heritage, have already started to make the journey back to their hometown to spend the holiday with family and friends.
The Chinese New Year holiday kicks off the Year of the Pig, which ends on 24 January 2020. According to Chinese astrology, 2019 is an auspicious year because the lucky pig attracts success in all aspects of our lives, which means it’s going to be a year full of love, friendship and joy for all Chinese zodiac signs – and everyone’s going to make a lot of money. We can only hope!
The pig is a lucky animal in many cultures, not just Chinese culture – it’s a symbol of good luck, prosperity and fertility. Keeping pigs is a way of insuring a family’s wellbeing here in Southeast Asia. That pigs are associated with wealth explains the global phenomenon that is the piggy bank, of course.
So what more could we want for in 2019 other than health, wealth and happiness? The ability to pig out on good food, obviously! And what’s a better way to celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Pig than by savouring the sublime thing that is pork?
I’ve browsed Terence’s extensive archive of recipes on Grantourismo and selected 12 pork recipes for the Year of the Pig – a pork dish for each month of the new Chinese year. They are by no means traditional Chinese New Year feasting dishes – as the pig is lucky for everywhere, I’ve reached beyond Chinese food and thrown in a handful of other pork favourites.
Pork Recipes for the Year of the Pig – 12 Delicious Pork Dishes for Chinese New Year
Char Siu Chinese Barbecue Pork Recipe
A compilation of pork recipes for the Year of the Pig has to start with char siu pork. Many years ago when we lived in Sydney – it feels like a lifetime ago! – we used to love going to Chinatown on weekends. After we’d finished our shopping, there were always fluffy pork buns, crispy Chinese roast ducks, and luridly coloured char siu pork to take home. Sweet and sticky on the outside, tender and juicy within, this Chinese barbecue pork recipe is dead easy to make, fills your kitchen with amazing aromas, and is versatile. You can eat it with steamed rice and Chinese greens and use it in everything from fried rice to banh mi. You can savour slices of it with a little hoisin sauce and rice, mix it in some fried rice, make some Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches with it, and use it for another Vietnamese speciality, cao lầu.
Crispy Five-Spice Pork Belly Recipe
As with char siu, a selection of pork recipes for the Year of the Pig has to have a five-spice crispy pork belly recipe. Five-spice or Chinese five spice is a dry spice powder mix of ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan pepper that is traditionally used for Peking Duck, as well as a rub and in marinades for other dishes. This is one of Terence’s favourite ways to cook pork belly and he’s been refining his version of this dish for years. It isn’t a labour intensive dish, but the pork requires a couple of days of fridge time before final serving. After the pork belly is cooked through, the cooled-off pork goes back in the refrigerator for at least another 12 hours, weighed down to make the pork perfectly even in height. The pork then goes back into the oven to get the skin perfectly crispy. The final result looks like it came from a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Chinese Special Fried Rice Recipe
What would a selection of pork recipes for the Year of the Pig be without a Chinese special fried rice recipe? Seriously missing something, that’s what. This recipe makes use of any leftover steamed rice you have in the fridge and the wonderful char siu pork, above. The dish is sometimes called Yangzhou fried rice, because its provenance is the city of Yangzhou in Jiangsu province in China, which was one of the culinary hotbeds of Huaiyang cuisine. The traditional version of this Chinese special fried rice dish includes cooked rice, char siu pork, shrimps, scallions, ‘scrambled’ eggs, peas, and carrots. Sea cucumber and crab meat are other additions. Some recipes use lap cheong (or lap chong) instead of char siu pork. Growing up in Australia, this special fried rice was served at every suburban Chinese restaurant in Australia, not to mention at those old-school Cantonese ‘all you can eat’ restaurants that were in every city and town’s Chinatown, so it has a special place in the hearts of nostalgic Australians, especially during Chinese holidays. While this dish probably tastes just fine after sitting in a bain-marie for a few hours, it really shines when made fresh and steaming hot.
Hokkien Noodles Recipe With Chinese Barbecue Pork
As with fried rice, a collection of pork recipes for the Year of the Pig would be incomplete with noodles. This Hokkien noodles recipe with char siu pork is an old favourite, inspired by a dish from legendary Australian chef Neil Perry, which Terence has been cooking since 1998. Terence’s version is modified from Neil’s recipe for the dish, published in his first cookbook, Rockpool. It’s simple to make once you’ve made your char siu pork and the ingredients are easy to find in any supermarket with a decent Asian section. You’ll note that It’s not as dark as Kuala Lumpur Hokkien mee, which has more dark soy in the sauce and oyster sauce is used to marinate the pork. Rather, its colour is more similar to Singapore’s Hokkien Mee, although it doesn’t use bee hoon. It’s also pork-based whereas the Singapore noodles are based on prawn stock. Given that the chef used palm sugar in his original recipe, it could have been inspired by Phuket’s Hokkien mee. Like most Southeast Asian food, it’s probably fusion. Regardless, it’s ridiculously delicious.
Pan-Roasted Brined and Marinated Pork Chops Recipe
It would be impossible for me to compile a collection of pork recipes for the Year of the Pig without Terence’s pan-roasted, brined and marinated pork chops recipe. This makes the best pork ever. It’s a recipe that defies the notion that pork chops are generally dry and bland. Using a simple brining technique combined with a spicy marinade, the pork chop is transformed into a succulent and sublime main course. Recipes using a lean pork cut, such as a trimmed pork chops, tend to result in a dry piece of pork, so it takes a lot of persuading by Terence for me to agree to a pork chop based dish but this is my absolute favourite dish – especially because Terence keeps experimenting with the marinade, so I never quite know what delicious surprises await me. Keeping in theme, you could use any number of Chinese-style marinades and it would work. You would just swap out the sides to suit, of course.
Vietnamese Bun Cha Recipe with Chargrilled Pork Patties and Pork Belly
This is the first of few Vietnamese pork recipes for the Year of the Pig, because the Vietnamese just do pork so well and our favourite dishes from Vietnam just happen to be the ones that crammed with the pig. First up is Terence’s Vietnamese bun cha recipe, which makes the style of bún chả that we used to eat for lunch on the streets of Vietnam’s capital Hanoi at least a few times a week – smoky char-grilled pork patties and pork belly (the ‘chả’), served in or with a warm dipping sauce, rice noodles (bún), and aromatic herbs and greens (perilla, ﬁsh leaf, basil, mint, coriander, butter lettuce, maybe sprouts), served with fried spring rolls (sometimes optional). Bun cha must be the most quintessential Hanoi dish after pho (which you can also have with pork) and there are few Vietnamese dishes that celebrate Vietnam’s wonderful pork as this dish does. Perhaps banh mi comes close…
Hoi An Style Banh Mi with Pork, Pork Liver Pâté and Omelette
You don’t really need a banh mi recipe after you’ve made this once, but it’s worth following the first time if you want to make a banh mi that comes close to Vietnam’s best. On our first trip to Vietnam we arrived in Hoi An on the first day of Tet for a few days and ended up staying a few months. We ate banh mi almost every day, either from Bánh Mì Phuong – where the Vietnamese baguette sandwich came with home-made mayonnaise, home-made pork liver pâté, Vietnamese sausage (called chả Huế), thin slices of char siu pork belly, cucumber slices, pickled carrot and daikon strips, fresh coriander (cilantro to our American readers), spicy chilli sauce, sliced chillies, and thinly sliced tomatoes – or from Madame Khanh, the ‘Banh Mi Queen’, who specialised in bahn mi op la, which was essentially a similar pork filled Banh mi, but with Madame Khanh’s special sauces, and a French style omelette.
Japanese Slow Simmered Pork Belly Dish
Moving over to Japan… it would be impossible for me not to include this sublime Japanese slow simmered pork belly dish in this collection of pork recipes for the Year of the Pig. Called Butaniku no kakuni in Japanese, we first tried this at a little izakaya and after finishing one serve immediately ordered another. Terence had been making a few different versions before Japanophile Jane Lawson, an Australian cookbook author, editor, food and travel writer, sent us a copy of one of her cookbooks, Zenbu Zen – Finding Food, Culture and Balance in Kyoto which he cooked from for his Year of Asian Cookbooks project. Richer, sweeter, with a silky texture, and deeper flavours than the recipe he’d been using, Jane’s iteration of Butaniku no kakuni has since become Terence’s go-to recipe. Try it and you’ll see why.
Cambodian Sweet Pork Belly with Boiled Eggs Recipe
In the same family as the Japanese slow simmered pork belly, above, this Cambodian sweet pork belly with boiled eggs recipe makes a very traditional Cambodian dish. However, as you can see from the image, below, Terence has presented it in a more contemporary style, which he did for an array of creative Cambodian canapés he made for a New Year’s Eve. You could certainly make this and serve it in the more rustic style. It’s another rich and comforting dish with a fascinating history and significant meaning in local Cambodian culture. The dish is often made for new mothers, to help them regain their strength, a belief that’s still held and practiced in the Cambodian countryside. In cities such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, it’s more of a special occasion dish, brought out for family gatherings and celebrations, such as New Year. Just as with the Japanese pork belly, this is an unctuous dish and one of our pork recipes for the Year of the Pig that I guarantee you’ll make more than once.
Northern Thai Pork Belly Curry Recipe
Travelling across the border to Thailand, this Northern Thai pork belly curry called gaeng hang lay moo probably seems like the odd one out amongst my selection of pork recipes for the Year of the Pig but it’s so decadent and delicious I couldn’t exclude it. This recipe came courtesy of Bangkok-based Thai Chef Ian Kittichai of Issaya Siamese Club and Terence calls it a red curry on spice steroids and says the richness of the pork belly makes it one of his favourite Thai curries. While the spices convey the influence of India and Malaysia, the origins perhaps are closer to the northern Thai border in Myanmar, where a pork curry called wet tha hin lay includes a sour component, just as the Thai version includes tamarind. In fact many restaurants in Chiang Mai call the curry ‘Burmese curry’. Wherever it’s from, it’s absolutely wonderful.
Texas Style BBQ Pork Recipe
This Texas Style BBQ Pork recipe was taught to us by Rusty Irons, the owner of the first holiday rental we settled into in Austin, Texas, on the yearlong grand tour of the world we did in 2010, which kicked off Grantourismo. On that trip, Terence spent time in each place learning to cook a quintessential local recipe for his series The Dish, and while I had always associated Texas with beef, Rusty, who had appeared on American chef Bobby Flay’s Grill it with Bobby Flay show, insisted Terence learn to make the dry-rubbed Texas style BBQ pork that got her onto the programme. Unlike our favourite Chinese versions of slow cooked pork, which are marinated in a ‘wet’ spice and/or sauce mix, Texans generally use a ‘dry rub;, i.e. they rub dry spices onto the skin (no liquids), and let them do their thing overnight in the fridge. Rusty serves the dish with her homemade BBQ sauce, and the sauce is almost as important as the meat.
Vietnamese Pork and Prawn Fresh Spring Rolls Recipe – Gỏi Cuốn Recipe
I wanted to end my carefully curated selection of pork recipes for the Year of the Pig with something light, so I’ve finished with a recipe for Vietnamese fresh prawn and pork spring rolls or gỏi cuốn recipe, which I made as part of my series of Vietnamese spring roll recipes. Zingy and refreshing, these fragrant fresh spring rolls, often called summer rolls in the USA, can be served as a light appetiser, part of a shared family-style meal or as finger food for a Vietnamese feast or barbecue. This is a classic recipe for the traditional gỏi cuốn cold spring roll of cold cooked prawns, unseasoned pork belly, cold vermicelli noodles, and fresh aromatic herbs, wrapped in damp dry rice paper sheets, as there’s seriously no need to muck around with something that works.