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Chinese-Style "Red Cooked" Belly Pork

“Red Cooking” is a style of preparation that involves braising meat in a small amount of liquid flavored with spices and other ingredients. After the dish is cooked covered for a short while, the lid of the pan is removed and the liquid is allowed to cook down until it is a thick sauce that coats the chosen protein.  This gives a beautifully rich and highly flavored dish with meat that is soft to the bite.  I have even heard some Chinese chefs tell me that pork cooked in this way is almost the same texture as tofu. There are many recipes for this dish online, to which I have added my own embellishments for my own tastes (red chili and vinegar).

Red Cooked Belly Pork by Simon Majumdar. Text, "Go Everywhere, Eat Everything"

Chinese-Style "Red Cooked" Belly Pork Recipe


Serves: 4



  • 2 lbs of Belly Pork (with the skin and fat left on)

  • 4 Cloves Garlic (Peeled and roughly chopped)

  • 2 Inches of Fresh Ginger (half roughly chopped and half grated)

  • 3 Star Anise

  • 3 Dry Red Chilies

  • 1 Teaspoon Black Peppercorns

  • 2 Tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Light Soy Sauce

  • 4 Tablespoons Shoaxing Wine (or dry sherry)

  • 1 Tablespoon Palm Sugar (or brown sugar)

  • 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar (this is not traditional, but I like the slight tang it gives to the final 

  • result)

  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

  • 2 Cups of Water (or stock. I used the broth from a hot & sour soup I had made the day before)

  • ½ Cup Sliced Green Onions

  1. Fill a saucepan large enough to hold the pork belly with enough water to cover it completely.

  2. Add half the garlic & ginger to the water along with one of the star anise, all of the peppercorns and one of the dry red chilies.

  3. Bring the water to the boil and place the pork belly in the aromatic liquid.

  4. Boil the pork belly for about 5 minutes. This will remove a lot of the impurities from the pork and you will see a film of scum on the surface.

  5. Remove the pork belly and allow to cook on a plate or rack. When it is cool, cut the belly pork into long strips about ½ in thick and then divide these into 1-inch pieces.

  6. Discard the water.

  7. Take a wok or a deep sided frying pan (for which you have a lid) and heat the vegetable oil.

  8. Add the grated ginger, the chopped garlic, the star anise and the red chilies and cook gently for 2 minutes.

  9. Add the belly pork pieces.

  10. Add the two soy sauces, the vinegar, the sugar, the rice wine (or sherry) the water (or stock) and cook until all of the sugar has dissolved in the liquid.

  11. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer gently for around forty minutes.

  12. After this time, remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce, which coats the belly pork.

  13. Add in the sliced green onions just before serving.

  14. Serve over plain boiled rice or with steamed greens. I particularly like this with simple steamed broccoli, which adds texture and crunch to the dish.

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