Fish-fragrant Pork Belly with Pineapple

Fish-fragrant Pork Belly with Pineapple

The dish you see pictured above is prepared in the well-known Sichuan ‘Yu Xiang’ (魚香) style, which simply means that It incorporates the spicy heat of chili against an umami background of bean paste and sweet and sour notes.

The name ‘Yu Xiang’ is most accurately translated as ‘Fish fragrant’, but it has, in some unfortunate instances, been translated as ‘fish-smelling’ (as in ‘Fish Smelling Pork’) and, in one memorable but unfortunate translation, ‘Pork with Fish Odor’.

The actual origin of the name and its relationship to the traditional ingredients is a fascinating one, and beyond the scope of this post, but for now just suffice it to say that no fish will be harmed in the preparation of this dish, nor will it smell or taste even vaguely fishy…

Ingredient Notes

Sichuan Chili Bean Paste - 辣豆瓣酱
Sichuan Chili Bean Paste – 辣豆瓣酱

The Recipe Card below calls for Sichuan Chili Bean Paste, which is a fermented product made with Broad Beans and Chili. There are many varieties available and will generally carry the Chinese characters 豆瓣酱, somewhere on the label. This just means ‘Chili Bean Paste’, and is pronounced ‘Dòubànjiàng’. Sometimes, though, you will see this written in English transcription as ‘Toban djan’, or some variant spelling.

The picture above shows the variety I have used for this recipe. The company name at the very bottom of the label is ‘PixianDouBan Co. Ltd’, and the Pixian refers to the place where this variety is made.

If you absolutely cannot source a Sichuan Dòubànjiàng, you can substitute a different sort of Chili Paste, but, unfortunately, this particular Paste is essential to the proper Sichuanese 魚香, or ‘Fish-Fragrant’ flavor, and the result of any substitution will really produce a different dish.

The Method

Searing Pineapple Pieces
Searing Pineapple Pieces

First, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan and sear the pineapple sections on both sides over high heat. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Browning Pork Belly Pieces
Browning Pork Belly Pieces

Heat another tablespoon or so of oil in your pan and, when it is almost smoking, add the pork belly slices. Stir and toss the slices until they are fully cooked through and getting crispy on the outside. Remove them to the same bowl as the pineapple.

Frying Peppers with Scallion, Ginger and Garlic
Frying Peppers with Scallion, Ginger and Garlic

Add enough oil or fat to the wok so that there are a generous three tablespoons at the bottom and then add the scallion, ginger and garlic. As soon as they release their aromas, throw in the sugar and then the red pepper. Toss and stir until the pepper is just getting soft and then add the sugar and the chili bean paste.

Finishing Fish-fragrant Pork Belly with Pineapple
Finishing Fish-fragrant Pork Belly with Pineapple

Stir just a few seconds longer and then add back the pork, pineapple and then the vinegar. Stir rapidly until the sauce is thickened and coats all the solid ingredients and then plate and serve.

Your Recipe Card:

Fish-fragrant Pork Belly with Pineapple

Fish-fragrant Pork Belly with Pineapple uses a classic Sichuanese flavoring technique for the pairing of Pork and Pineapple. No fish is used.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Chinese, Sichuanese
Keyword: Chili Bean Paste, Garlic, Ginger, Pineapple, Pork Belly, Rice Vinegar, Scallion, Sugar
Servings: 4 as part of a Chinese Meal
Author: John Thompson

Ingredients

  • Thick slices of Pork Belly cut into bite sized pieces (about 1 ½ Cups)
  • 2 slices of fresh Pineapple cut to same size as the pork belly
  • 1 small Red Bell Pepper chopped into irregular pieces
  • 1 scallion chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. Ginger minced
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Sichuan Chili Bean Paste la douban jiang
  • 3 tbsp. Vinegar

Instructions

  • Sear the Pineapple pieces in a pan over moderately high heat until just beginning to turn brown and remove them to a bowl.
  • Now sear the Pork pieces until browned and beginning to turn crispy at the edges pan, then remove to the same bowl as the Pineapple.
  • Add enough oil or fat to the pan to make three tablespoons, add the scallion, ginger and garlic, and stir-fry until they release their aroma and then add the Red Pepper.
  • Stir-fry until the Peppers begin to soften, then add the Sugar and the Chili Bean Paste.
  • Stir just a few seconds longer and then add back the pork, pineapple and then the vinegar.
  • Stir rapidly until the sauce is thickened and coats all the solid ingredients and then plate and serve.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!