Soy Sauce & Sugar Braised Pork

红烧肉hóng shāo ròu


2 lb pork belly

1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn

1 star anise

4 slices ginger

1 tsp black vinegar

2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

3 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 + 1/2 tbsp brown sugar or crystal sugar cubes

1/4 tsp + pinch salt

3 green onions

1 + 3/4 cup water

Prep Pork Belly

Note: Pork belly with the skin still on makes the best soy sauce braised pork.

  1. If you have a pork belly slab, slice it into 1.5 inch strips.

  2. (If your pork belly has hair on the skin continue here, otherwise skip to Step 5). Cut the pork belly strips into a size you can easily hold.

  3. Heat a pan over medium heat.

  4. Sear the pork belly skin until browned, and wash and use a knife to scrape the brown layer off.

  5. Cut each pork belly strip into 1-inch wide pieces. (The first image is if you skip steps 2-5, and the second is if you don't).

Prep Ingredients

  1. Tear off 3 petals of the star anise - this is all we need!

  2. Cut green onion into 2-inch pieces.

  3. Slice 4 strips of ginger.

Make Dish

  1. Strain the pork belly.

  2. Heat a pan over medium-high heat.

  3. Add pork belly, 1 cup water, 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, ginger, star anise, 1/4 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, and vinegar.

  4. Once the water is boiling, use a spoon to remove any gray foam.

  5. Cover the pan and let boil for 15 minutes.

  6. Every 5 minutes, flip and stir the pieces.

  7. After 15 minutes, if there's still more than a thin layer of sauce left, leave the lid off, and continue to boil until there is only a thin layer of sauce left in the pan.

  8. Lower the heat to medium, and use chopsticks or a spoon to remove the ginger, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn from the pan.

  9. Add the brown sugar or crystal sugar cubes, another 1/4 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, green onion, and salt.

  10. Stir and flip the pork belly for ~6 minutes until sugar melts, sauce is dried, and a lot of fat oil is extracted from the meat.

  11. Add 3/4 cup water to the pan.

  12. Let braise. If you're short on time, cover the pan partially with the lid. If you have some time, cover completely. Check every ~5 minutes and turn the heat off once there is only a thin layer of sauce left. (If you want the dish at its tenderest, turn the heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.)

  13. Remove the green onion with chopsticks, flip the pork belly a few times to make sure the sauce covers it well, and serve!