Hunan Pork vs Szechuan Pork – Learn the Key Differences

Published Categorized as Journal

Both Hunan pork and Szechuan pork are fantastic dishes that are full of spice and color, traditionally both part of Chinese cuisine. Even though these two dishes share similar ingredients, they do taste slightly different. The reason Hunan pork and Szechuan pork dishes have differing tastes is also due to the way they are prepared and cooked in their own recipes. 

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In this article we will explore what makes Hunan pork and Szechuan pork different from one another. We’ll also discuss the nutritional value of both Hunan pork and Szechuan pork dishes.

Table of Contents

chopped up pork

What Is The Difference Between Hunan Pork And Szechuan Pork?

What is the difference between Szechuan style and Hunan style? These two dishes are very similar. But they do differ from each other on what ingredients they use. 

Hunan pork is a traditional dish that is part of Chinese cuisine. The Hunan region where Hunan pork originates from uses a lot of chili peppers and fresh but sour ingredients in their cooking. A Hunan pork dish is considered to be like a stir fry dish and is meant to be prepared in the same style. The reason a Hunan pork dish may be compared to a stir fry dish is that the ingredients can change depending on what ingredients are fresh that season. A Hunan pork dish normally is coated in cornstarch and then can use a variety of ingredients such as shallots, scallions, ginger, chili peppers and soy sauce.

500 grams of Hunan pork has a varied amount of nutritional value. Per 500 grams of Hunan pork it contains roughly 30 grams of protein, 95 grams of calcium and 5 grams of iron. Hunan pork also contains vitamins that are very healthy for the body such as vitamin C and vitamin A.

Szechuan pork is very similar to Hunan pork. It is also a traditional dish of Chinese cuisine. Szechuan pork originates from the southwest of China. Though Szechuan chicken is the most famous dish, but the pork variety follows closely behind. 

Szechuan pork differs from Hunan pork in its flavors and aromas that are similar to citrus. The most common ingredients that are used in a Szechuan pork dish include cornstarch, sugar, alcohol (such as sherry), soy sauce, chili paste or fresh chilies and sesame seed oil. It is also common that some fresh ingredients like garlic, bell peppers and onions are used in the dish as well as the condiments.

When eating a traditional Szechuan pork dish you may notice that your tongue may start to tingle or turn numb. This effect is due to the peppercorn that is included in the recipe. This tingling sensation  that the peppercorn causes is a classic characteristic of the Szechuan pork dish.

500 grams of Szechuan pork has a varied amount of nutritional value. Per 500 grams of Szechuan pork contains roughly 16 grams of protein, which is far less than hunan pork. Szechuan pork also contains small amounts of minerals and vitamins that are very healthy for the body, just like hunan pork. These vitamins and minerals include magnesium, iron, vitamin C and vitamin A.

The biggest difference between Hunan pork and Szechuan pork is the mixture of ingredients that they contain in their recipe. In a hunan pork dish, pork is the main ingredient that dominates the meal. Whereas, in a Szechuan pork dish red bell peppers are the focus of the meal.

Hunan Pork Vs Szechuan Pork

Which Is Hotter, Hunan Or Szechuan?

If you are comparing which is spicier, Hunan pork or Szechuan pork, then we have the answer! 

Hunan pork is known as the hotter dish of the two due to the amount of chillies and garlic that the dish contains. 

There are different types of Szechuan styles. Some Szechuan styles have a sweeter taste but are still quite hot, where others have a more sour taste while still being quite spicy. 

Once a Szechuan style dish has been finished, it tends to be spicy due to other ingredients in the dish other than the pork. The pork itself in Szechuan style is not overly spicy. The pork in a Hunan style dish is spicy and is generally the hotter out of the two pork dishes. The Hunan style pork tends to be a lot spicier as it uses fresh chilies.

Cutting meat on a wooden chop board

How To Prepare Hunan Pork

Hunan pork is commonly prepared and cooked using a smoking method. The dish will always use fresh ingredients, meaning that the ingredients are not set and change depending on what season it is.

The best way to cook Hunan pork is to by frying, smoking or stewing. It is best to marinade the pork for long periods of time to allow the flavors to soak into the meat. The way Hunan meat recipes are cooked is different from Szechuan pork, as the meat is cooked on its own and is then later combined with all the other ingredients.

Here is a step by step recipe on how to best prepare and cook your Hunan pork:

You will need:

  • 500 grams of pork
  • 1 handful of chopped spring onion
  • 5 peppers (this can be a combination of different type of peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
  • 1 medium sized onion, white or red
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon white wine

Method:

  1. Cut the pork into either small slices or diced into small cubes.
  2. Cook the pork in a medium heat frying pan for 8 to 10 minutes using sesame oil. While you cook the pork, add the soy sauce, grated ginger and white wine as a marinade.
  3. Once the pork has turned brown, add the chopped spring onions. When chopping your spring onions it is best to cut them in very thin and even slices. Add the chopped garlic cloves into the heated frying pan with the spring onion.
  4. Chop the mixture of peppers into large squares or chunks and add them to the heated frying pan. It is best to stir the mixture of ingredients consistently to allow the peppers to soften but not burn.
  5. After 5 to 8 minutes of the pepper being added, add the oyster sauce to the sauce.
  6. Once you have added the oyster sauce, the dish is ready to be taken off the heat. Allow the dish to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

How To Prepare Szechuan Pork

Szechuan pork is traditionally made with ingredients that have either been dried or pickled. These ingredients give Szechuan pork its unique flavor.

When you are preparing Szechuan pork it is best to do so by frying, steaming or braising it. If you cook the dish in these ways, it will allow the meat to cook fairly quickly.

Another fantastic method of preparing your Szechuan dish is to marinate your pork. It is important you only marinate your meat for a few minutes rather than for a few hours or overnight. If you marinate for a long period of time, this may overpower your dish with a strong taste.

Szechuan pork is a very easy dish to make. It is common to cook the pork along with your sauce, marinade and extra ingredients at the same time.

Here is how to best prepare and cook your Szechuan pork:

You will need:

  • 500 grams of pork
  • Half a green bell pepper and half a yellow bell pepper
  • Half a small onion, diced.
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or another oil of your choice)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder

Method:

  1. Combine a pinch of salt with the chili powder in a small bowl and spread the seasoning over your raw pork.
  2. Heat a large frying pan up with the olive oil to a medium heat. Place the raw pork into the heated frying pan and cook until the pork starts to turn brown rather than pink. Once the pork has fully turned brown, remove it from the frying pan.
  3. Add the diced garlic, grated ginger, diced onion and both bell peppers to the heated frying pan. Cook the ingredients until they have softened, this should not take any longer than 3 to 4 minutes. Once these ingredients have softened, add the cooked pork in the frying pan to combine with the other ingredients.
  4. Use a medium sized mixing bowl and combine the soy sauce, cornstarch and white wine vinegar.
  5. Combine the soy sauce mixture to the heated frying pan and stir frequently. Allowing the soy sauce mixture to heat along with the pork will allow the meat to soak up some of the moisture. Heat the soy sauce mixture and pork for up to 5 minutes.
  6. After 5 minutes of cooking, remove the frying pan from the heat. Allow the dish to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Hunan Pork Vs Szechuan Pork – Learn The Key Differences

FAQs About Szechuan And Hunan Pork

What makes Hunan and Szechuan cooking different?

Though both Hunan pork recipes and Szechuan pork recipes feature similar ingredients, the way those ingredients are prepared can make a big difference. The other biggest difference is that Hunan recipes will always traditionally be full of fresh ingredients, while a Szechuan dish uses more pickled ingredients.

“Hunan Pork And Szechuan Pork May Have The Same Ingredients But There Are Key Differences That Make Them Taste Unique…”

Anna Brooks, CooksDream.com

You may be looking at both a Hunan pork recipe and a Szechuan pork recipe and think to yourself, how are these dishes any different when they use the same ingredients?

The answer is that even though both Hunan pork recipes and Szechuan pork recipes feature similar ingredients, the way those ingredients are prepared can make a big difference. The other biggest difference in the way these two dishes taste is that the Hunan pork recipe will always traditionally be full of fresh ingredients. These ingredients can vary and the recipe can change depending on the season and what vegetables are growing at the time. Compared to Hunan pork, a Szechuan pork dish uses more pickled ingredients and commonly stays the exact same throughout the year.

Here are more posts on the blog for further reading:

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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