Fenzhenrou | Steamed Pork in Toasted Rice Powder

A random memory popped up a couple of months ago — I was having dinner with my grandparents and my grandpa had brought out a pork dish that was served in a pumpkin. My parents and aunt suggested it might be ‘fenzhenrou’ when I brought it up. A couple weeks later, my aunt invited me over for lunch and she had prepared ‘fenzhenrou’. After the first bite, I knew it was the dish that I had been thinking of!

She taught me how to make fenzhenrou based on how my grandpa had taught her. I recently recreated it for my parents and it was lovely to hear them share memories and stories of him over one of his favorite foods. Like how in his 60s, after moving to America, he started to learn to cook because he wanted to recreate childhood favorites he’d missed.

Different variations of fenzhenrou exist based on regional palette differences (for instance, my friend’s Sichuanese family makes it with doufuru and doubanjiang) — this is a more Shanghainese take on the dish, no spice, more soy sauce, and a bit of sugar! I like to use kabocha for the starch since it’s what’s most familiar to me, but some use sweet potatoes, taro, and/or potatoes.

I used:

  • 1 box of toasted rice powder (pictured above is the brand my grandpa liked, found it at ranch 99!)
  • 1 lb pork, I used 1/2 pork belly and 1/2 pork butt roast
  • 1/4 medium kabocha (~1/2 lb), cut into small chunks
  • 1 small sweet potato (~1/2 lb), cut into small chunks
  • 3 slices of ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 scallions, cut into 2-inch sections, slice thick whites vertically
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (note: if your toasted rice powder has salt in the ingredients list, leave this out)
  • optional: 5-6 leaves of cabbage

To make:

  • Place pork in freezer for 20-30 minutes (slightly freezing makes slicing the pork easier), then cut into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick
  • Marinate the pork and your starches (potato, taro, sweet potato), in the ginger, scallions, and sauces (shaoxing wine, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white pepper, sugar, and salt). Mix well and let sit for 30-60 minutes
  • After marinating, I like to remove most of the scallions and ginger slices because I don’t like eating them, but that’s optional!
  • Pour on the toasted rice powder, ensuring that each piece of pork is well coated
  • If using, layer your cabbage under your pork and starches
  • Place the dish in your steamer set up and steam over medium heat for an hour until the sweet potato is soft and rice powder is translucent. If there are still some pieces of powder that aren’t translucent, rotate the pork around so the top layer is submerged, and steam for another 10 minutes or so
  • Remove from steamer and serve!