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!
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.
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.
- 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!
What We Recommend Eating This With
- Authentic Chinese Scallion Pancakes (Cong You Bing)
- Chinese Stir-fried Tomato and Egg
- 5-Minute Asian Cucumber Salad
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