chinese braised pork belly
Entree, Meat

Chinese Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou) Recipe

Hey everyone, it’s Kevin here! Today I have for you a recipe for Chinese braised pork belly, or hong shao rou!

Hong shao rou 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. Once you try this Chinese braised pork belly, you will understand why this is my favorite Chinese meat dish!

chinese braised pork belly

What is Hong Shao Rou?

Hong shao rou is a Chinese braised pork belly dish that is cooked in a braising liquid made with soy sauce, sugar, and various aromatics and spices. It is similar to my Braised Chinese Chicken Wings recipe, but hong shao rou is a bit more complex of a dish, using a few more aromatics to create an even more amazing flavor.

Depending on the region you go to in China, they will all have slightly different versions of this recipe. Some versions don’t use dark soy sauce at all (resulting in a much lighter red color), some add vinegar, some add scallions. Feel free to experiment and play around with the ingredients!

No matter where you go though, two things will remain the same: frying the meat in “caramel” (melted brown sugar) before braising, and a long braise with a soy sauce-based braising liquid. The first step of frying the meat in caramel may seem odd to people, but it is actually a crucial step because doing so will lock in the caramel flavor in the meat.

Because of the long cooking time, all of the flavors from the braising liquid get infused into the meat itself, making each bite explode with flavor. It will also be so tender that the meat will feel like it’s melting in your mouth.

chinese braised pork belly

Tips

While this recipe is quite easy, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you get it right the first time!

  • Try to get pork belly that has an even split of fat and meat. If it is too lean, then the meat won’t become very tender or take on as much flavor. The best and easiest place to find the perfect cut of pork belly is a Chinese grocery store, like 99 Ranch. They will usually have pieces that are already cut to the right width.
chinese braised pork belly pork
  • Parboil the meat to make it easier to cut. Conveniently, this also leaves us with the right amount of hot water to braise with. It’s best to use hot water for the braise because you add it directly back to the pork that is already cooking. If you use cold water, then the meat might toughen up on contact.
  • Be patient when melting the sugar in the oil to make the caramel. After adding the sugar to the oil, leave it be and try not to disturb it until you see a pool of melted sugar starting to form. Once some of the sugar has melted, you can stir it with a chopstick (or something else with low surface area) to make the rest of the sugar melt more quickly. Be careful though, because the caramel will stick to whatever you stir with!
  • For best results, resist the temptation to check on the meat too often. We want to reduce temperature variations while braising, and stirring the meat once every 30 minutes is more than enough to ensure an even braise.

Chinese braised pork belly (hong shao rou) is one of my absolute favorite Chinese dishes, and I can’t wait for you guys to try out this recipe! Let’s get started!

chinese braised pork belly

What We Recommend Eating This With

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Chinese Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Kevin Lee Course: Main CourseCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

2

hours 

30

minutes

Chinese braised pork belly, or hong shao rou, is one of the most popular dishes in China, and for good reason! Each bite melts in your mouth and explodes with the amazing flavor of the sweet and savory sauce!

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!)chinese braised pork belly parboil pork
  • 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 sidechinese braised pork belly cut pork
  • 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 processchinese braised pork belly sugarchinese braised pork belly caramel
  • 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!chinese braised pork belly pork in caramel
  • 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 minuteschinese braised pork belly pork braising
  • 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 meatchinese braised pork belly pork after braisingchinese braised pork belly finished
  • Remove the meat from the pot and then drizzle with some of the extra sauce. Serve hot with a side of rice and vegetables

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Chinese braised pork belly, or hong shao rou, is one of the most popular dishes in China, and for good reason! Each bite melts in your mouth and explodes with the amazing flavor of the sweet and savory sauce!

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