White-Cooked Pork


White cooking is an elegant Chinese euphemism for poaching in water. Although we have a great tradition of boiled meats in this country, most people go no further than gammon or a piece of salt beef. For a delicious new angle on an ancient theme, try this cold summer dish of white-cooked pork with spicy Sichuan dressing.


  • 1.35-kg/ 3-lb piece of pork loin, cut from the best end
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 heads of star anise
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves

For the Dressing

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 4 spring onions, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 hot red chilli, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil
  • 3 tbsp Pearl River or other good dark Chinese soy sauce
  • 3 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil handful of chopped coriander


The day before: cover the piece of pork with cold water, add the salt and bring to the boil. Skim, add the star anise and kaffir lime leaves, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat but leave the pork in the liquid while it cools.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: put the garlic, spring onions and chilli into a bowl with the chilli oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and sunflower oil, then stir. Refrigerate the pork and the dressing separately overnight.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, remove both meat and dressing from the fridge. Slice the loin as thinly as you can, arranging the slices slightly overlapping on a serving dish. Stir a handful of chopped coriander leaves into the dressing and splash one-third of this over the meat, passing the remainder in a sauce boat for people to add more if they wish.