At New Year’s and other celebrations, pork and sticky rice are the main foods for the Lisu, one of many distinctive cultural groups who live in the mountains of southwestern Yunnan province, in China. The combination of peppery fresh nutmeg and Szechuan pepper makes a knockout spice rub. The meat is roasted over coals then served on a large communal platter and accompanied by mounds of steamed sticky rice.
We adapted this recipe for charcoal-grilled szechuan spice-rubbed pork as a roast in an oven, calling for a little lard to compensate for the leaner pork that is now standard in North America. The roast comes out of the oven with a deliciously salty spiced crust and moist interior. You can also use this Szechuan spice rub on lamb.–Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Author's Grilled Rather Than Roasted Note
You can come closer to the original fire-cooked pork of the Lisu by grilling rather than roasting the meat. Slice the pork crosswise into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick slabs. Rub on both sides with the Szechuan spice blend, then grill slowly over medium heat until it is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness. Turn the pork once partway through and baste it occasionally with a little lard or oil to keep it moist. Let stand for at least 5 minutes. Thinly slice before serving.
Szechuan Spice-Rubbed Pork Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Serves 4
- About 2 tablespoons lard or bacon drippings
- About 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt or loin, no more than 2 inches at it’s thickest
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry roasted Szechuan peppercorns, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Use a little of the lard or bacon drippings to grease the bottom of a roasting pan.
- 2. Rinse and dry the pork.
- 3. Place the nutmeg, ground Szechuan and black peppers, and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Using your fingertips, rub the spice blend all over the pork. Place the pork in the roasting pan and, using your fingers or the back of a spoon, dab the remaining lard or drippings over the top of the meat.
- 4. Roast until cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the thickness. Let stand at room temperature for at least 5 minutes. Thinly slice the roast crosswise and transfer to a platter. If you wish, deglaze the roasting pan with a little water and pour the pan gravy over the slices of pork.
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Dec 28, 2010
What moist and succulent pork! The spicing was just right, not overpowering but enhancing the flavor of the meat. I basted the pork with the fat from the pan when I checked the internal temperature, and then again after I took it out of the oven. I made a thin pan gravy as well. This was great with a side dish of rice cooked in apple cider and toasted pecans. I’ll definitely make this recipe again—it produced the moistest pork I’ve served in quite some time.
Dec 28, 2010
This simple, juicy roast pork took the full 60 minutes to reach the well-done stage in my oven. The attractive, rustic coating not only held in the moisture, but it also wasn’t overwhelming in spices. I was a bit concerned about the amount of nutmeg, but the spice didn’t mask the other flavours. NOTE: You may not need all of the spice rub, as I had a good teaspoon leftover. With the spice rub not being too hot, and the roast tasting so good out of the oven, I can’t wait to try it off the grill!
Dec 28, 2010
This spice-rubbed pork was extremely easy, and so delicious! While the oven was preheating (it was too cold for grilling), I toasted the peppercorns and mixed the spices. I used a 1.25-lb. pork loin, which is the perfect size for the spice mix, and took about 45 minutes to cook. The pork was tender, perfectly seasoned, and the Sichuan peppercorn flavor was at the forefront. (I’m not sure where the nutmeg flavor went, however.) I served the loin over rice with buttered carrots, and this meal fed 4 people, with no leftovers. I thought it would take too long to prepare during a weeknight, but by the time the rice was done and I had prepped the veggies, the pork was almost ready. I bet if we grilled it, it would’ve been even quicker.
Szechuan Spice-Rubbed Pork Recipe © 2008 Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Photo © 2008 Richard Jung. All rights reserved.