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Chinese Red-braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)

Recipe by Connie Veneracion
For a truly delicious red-braised pork belly, don't take short cuts. Trim the slab of pork belly so that the thickness is uniform. Parboil the meat and brown in hot oil before braising, and caramelize the sugar to make a good base for the sauce.
While you may easily cook this dish on the stovetop, I used the oven for convenience. Less evaporation means better flavor concentration.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 50 mins
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 3 people
Chinese Red-braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou) Over Rice with Bok Choy on the Side

Ingredients
  

  • 1 kilogram pork belly whole
  • cooking oil for deep frying
  • 3 tablespoons sliced scallions

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 1 cup bone broth

Spices

  • 1 onion peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 two-inch knob ginger peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and lightly pounded
  • 5 to 6 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 3 to 4 star anise

Instructions
 

Prep the pork belly

  • Cut the pork belly crosswise to separate the lower portion with the bones.
    Trimming a slab of pork belly
  • Boil about six inches of water in a pan large enough to fit the trimmed pork belly.
  • Slide the pork belly into the boiling water (you may add the trimmed portions too) and leave to boil over high heat for ten minutes.
    Parboiling a slab of pork belly
  • Scoop out the meat and rinse well making sure to scrape off any remaining impurities.
    Cooling and drying parboiled pork belly
  • Place the parboiled pork belly between stacks of paper towels to remove any surface moisture.
  • In a wok or fryer, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of three inches.
  • Slide in the pork belly, skin side up, and cook the meat over high heat until lightly browned.
    Plunging a slab of parboiled pork belly in hot oil
  • Turn the pork belly over and continue cooking until the skin is blistered (see notes after the recipe).
    Frying a slab of pork belly until browned and the skin is blistered
  • Scoop out the pork belly and rest on a rack to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 325F.

Make the sauce

  • Spread the sugar in the frying pan.
  • Melt over medium heat, pour in the soy sauces and rice wine carefully (the mixture will sizzle initially) and swirl.
  • Pour in the broth and bring to a gentle boil.

Braise the pork belly

  • Cover the bottom of a baking dish with the onion slices.
    Onion slices, ginger, cloves, peppercorns, star anise and garlic in baking dish
  • Scatter the rest of the spices over them.
  • Take the pork belly and cut (the center will still be pink and raw). Cubes are traditional but slices cook faster.
    Slicing parboiled and fried pork belly
  • Arrange the pork belly slices (or cubes) in the baking dish and pour the sauce over them.
    Arranging pork belly slices in baking dish and pouring sauce over them
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil (I used two sheets) crimping the edges to seal.
    Tightly covering baking dish with pork belly
  • Cook the pork belly at 325F for an hour and half.
  • Take the pork belly out of the oven and peel off the foil.
  • Take a ladle, scoop the sauce and pour over the cooked pork belly. Do this repeatedly for a few minutes to give the pork belly better color.
    Braised pork belly slices in sauce
  • Serve your red-braised pork belly with rice.
    Chinese Red-braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou) Over Rice with Bok Choy on the Side
  • Optionally, sprinkle with scallions and arrange blanched bok choy on the side.

Notes

This isn't crispy pork belly. You're blistering the skin to give it texture. Don't wait until the skin turns into a crackling. You don't need it to get crispy because you're going to cook the pork belly in liquid anyway.
If you're wondering what happened to the bones and meat that were trimmed from the slab of pork belly...
Boiling pork with scallions, garlic, peppercorns and salt
I boiled them in water with scallions, garlic, peppercorns and salt. The broth will be used to make congee and the meat will go on top of the congee.
Updated from a recipe originally published in June 8, 2016
Keyword Pork Belly