[In this series, we tip our hats to some of our favourite dishes available in the restaurants, cafés, and cabins of Calcutta. Our purpose in doing so is to document their existence, and give people a way to recreate them if they happen to live away from the city. Make these at home, or hunt them down from the source—irrespective of how you get your hands on these items, we hope you enjoy them.
Chilli pork is one of the most versatile dishes in that it can just as easily double as a side dish to go with tingmo, rice, or noodles, as function as a standalone snack or appetiser. It can be cooked in several different ways. In fact, nearly all East and Southeast Asian cultures have variations of this popular dish. In India, besides the Tibetan and Nepali versions, the Goan, Mangalorean and Kerala-style chilli pork are well known (and who among us doesn’t enjoy the dry, dark Coorgi chilli pork?) .
We like our chilli pork juicy, where stir-fried pork slices are accompanied with hot green chillies in every bite. We’re using the pork belly as it is fatty, but you could also use the leaner shoulder. This simple recipe leads to twice-cooked chilli pork. The meat is first boiled until tender and then stir-fried. This recipe is also reminiscent of the chilli pork on the menus of several Chinese restaurants in Calcutta.
- 1 kg pork belly or shoulder (5-cm logs)
- 20 g ginger (roughly chopped)
- 10 g garlic (sliced)
- 300 g onions (3-cm squares)
- 25 g green chillies (slit)
- 60 g tomatoes (diced)
- 20 g vegetable oil
- 2–3 pcs star anise
- 25 g soy sauce (½ light, ½ dark)
- 23 g salt
- Place the pork in a pressure cooker, along with ginger, garlic, 50 g onions, 2 green chillies, 2 star anise, 18 g salt, and 350 g water. Boil the pork in the pressure cooker on medium heat for 45 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes, to enable clean slicing later on. Once chilled, slice the pork about 5 mm wide.
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok on high heat. Add the star anise, sliced pork, and half the green chillies. Toss or stir until fat renders from the pork. This should take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Then add the onion squares and fry for about 6 minutes until they are softened. Add the tomatoes and green chillies and fry for another 2 minutes.
- Finally, add the soy sauce and salt. Toss to combine. You may garnish with some green onions if you like, but this is optional.