Chinese Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)

Chinese Braised Pork Belly is a very popular dish in China, and it’s something that many Chinese people grow up eating. While it can be a bit time consuming to make, it’s not difficult at all, and you can make a lot of it at once. Because it is braised for such a long time with a variety of aromatics and spices, the resulting flavor is so amazing.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 pounds thick pork belly (about 1.5 inches wide; skin on)

  • 3 cups water

  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

  • 1/2 inch ginger (sliced thin)

  • 2 star anise

  • 10 Szechuan peppercorn (optional if can’t find at grocery store)

  • 1/2 cinnamon stick

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

  • 7 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce

  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)

Equipment
  • Wide pot or pan

  • Dutch oven or large pot

DIRECTIONS

  • In a wide pot or pan, add the three cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (the water level should be at least half the thickness of the pork belly). Add the pork belly and parboil for a minute on each side, just until the exterior is a bit firm. Remove the pork belly to a cutting board, and set the hot water aside (don’t pour it out!)
  • Add the garlic, ginger, star anise, Szechuan peppercorn, and cinnamon stick to the water and keep over low heat (we need this water to be hot since we will be adding it back to the pork and if it gets cold then it might cause the meat to toughen up)
  • Cut the pork belly into cubes about 1.5 inches on each side
  • In a Dutch oven or large pot, start heating up the oil over medium-low heat. Add 3.5 tablespoons of the brown sugar. Let the sugar sit undisturbed until you see it start to melt. Once it starts melting, you can use a single chopstick to mix it up a bit to speed up the melting process
  • When all the sugar has melted and turned into a dark amber color, add the pork belly. Cook while flipping the pieces for a few minutes until almost every side of each piece is covered with the caramel. Be gentle so you don’t break the pieces!
  • Add the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine and cook for a minute. Then add the water with all the spices and aromatics. Braise the pork belly over medium-low heat for 2 hours, stirring once every 30 minutes
  • After 2 hours, the pork should be fully tender. You can check by sticking a chopstick into the meat through the bottom. The chopstick should be able to easily pierce the entire piece. If you want it to be more tender, put the lid back on and keep braising until it reaches your desired tenderness
  • Remove the lid and raise the heat to medium. Add the remaining 3.5 tablespoons of sugar and mix. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the sauce has reduced significantly and thickened up. Stir every few minutes to prevent the meat from burning. You’ll know it’s done when the sauce is thick enough to start sticking to the meat