“Red” braised pork belly recipe (hong shao rou)

Red braised pork belly is a popular dish throughout China, and there are many ways to make it. This is just one of the many, and although the cooking time is quite long, the prep time is only 5 minutes. A specialised version from Hangzhou is Dong Po Rou, and named after the famous artist/poet Su Dongpo.

The pork belly is cooked on very low heat, and you can cook it from 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how soft you want the meat to be – the longer the softer. Cooking it for longer than 1 hour risks the meat going too dry.

This recipe serves 2.


400g of pork belly
1 spring onion
30g of sugar
4 slices of ginger
5 star anises
2 tbsps of soya sauce
2 tbsps of shaoxing rice wine

You’ll also need salt to taste, water and a touch of olive oil/other cooking oil.


Step 1: cut the pork into cubes of around 1 inch across.


Step 2: separate the white and green parts of the spring onion. Chop the white parts into 1 inch lengths, and chop the green parts more finely.

Step 3: add a little oil in a pan and heat for around 30 seconds before adding the sugar to this. Keep stirring and frying the sugar on medium heat until it all dissolves. This is what gives the redness to the meat (more so than the soya sauce).


Step 4: once the sugar is all dissolved, drop in the white parts of the spring onion, the ginger and star anises. Drop in the pork, dust with salt, stir for around 2-3 minutes until the pork is evenly covered with the sugar paste/salt.

Step 5: add water until the pork is covered, then add the soya sauce and rice wine and switch onto low heat and cover the pan.

Step 6: cook for around 30 minutes – there will be a layer on top of the pork. Skim this off and throw if away.


Step 7: loosely cover the pot and cook for a further 15-30 minutes. The juice should be nearly gone. Sprinkle the green bits of the spring onion over the pork, stir and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and it’s ready to serve!

As mentioned, there are loads of different ways to make this dish. Do you have a favourite?


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