Chinese Steamed Pork with Couscous (Fen Zheng Rou)

This steamed pork with couscous recipe is both traditional and modern – in that it uses couscous instead of broken rice, but the taste is so similar to what you’d traditionally eat that it’s very difficult to distinguish between the two. Traditionally the broken rice is made from chopping rice (or whizzing it quickly in a blender) before it’s cooked, so that each bit of the broken rice is roughly the size of a grain of couscous. We chose to use couscous for this because it’s already the right size, and a bit healthier than white rice – or for an even healthier alternative, use wholegrain couscous!

Even though it’s a steamed recipe, it does require a little bit of frying beforehand. The frying is absolutely integral to the recipe, as the flavours won’t be sealed in otherwise. There is also an option to marinate the meat in the sauces before frying them together, and you can do so if you have more time and are able to prepare it in advance. Just mix together everything from the five spices powder to the fermented bean curd sauce and coat the meat in this. The total cooking time is roughly 1 hour!

There are lots of special sauces for this recipe, and if you don’t have them all in your food cupboard, some are optional!

400-500g pork belly
2 spring onions
1 tbsp chopped ginger

2 star anise
1/2 tsp five spices powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 tbsp sweet bean sauce
1 tsp broad bean paste (optional)
1 tsp rose fermented bean curd sauce (optional)

100g couscous, washed
1 chicken stock cube

You’ll also need frying oil, salt to taste and some water.

Step 1: Cut the pork belly into cubes of roughly 1 inch across. If necessary, wash and drain.

Step 2: Separate the whites and greens of the spring onion. Cut the white parts into 1 inch sections, and chop the green parts more finely. Set aside the green parts for later.

Step 3: Heat a little oil in a pan, then add in the whites of the spring onions, the chopped ginger and the star anise. Heat until the oil starts to bubble.

Step 4: Drop in the pork belly cubes, and once the start to brown on the surface, add in the five spices powder and brown sugar. Keep cooking on medium heat.

Step 5: Mix together the soy sauce, rice wine, sweet bean sauce, broad bean paste and fermented bean curd sauce. Add a little water if necessary to make this easier to pour into the pan, then add this to the pork belly cubes.

Step 6: Add in the couscous and stir well. Leave to cook on low heat for 1 minute.

Step 7: Dissolve the stock cube in 125ml water, then add this to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Step 8: Spoon everything in the pan into a bowl and steam on medium heat for 45-50 minutes, then garnish with the greens of the spring onion and it’s ready to serve!


More modern takes also include vegetables such as potatoes and mushrooms into the mix. Just bear in mind that the veggies will produce water, so you’ll need to reduce the amount you add in – we’re already reducing the usual couscous to water ratio, because water will get into the couscous via steaming.Which veggies would you like to experiment with?


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