Red Cooked Pork

A good red-cooked pork recipe is a family treasure and this one is no exception. I learned to make this dish from my Aunt Hong and her recipe is the foundation for mine, which has evolved over the years after much experimentation with parboiling and caramelizing, aromatic ingredients and spices. Serve it with rice or in steamed buns, topped with julienned scallions and some cilantro sprigs. Here is my Red Cooked Pork recipe from Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking.

Red-Cooked Pork (紅燒肉)

Cuisine: Home-Style
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  • pounds pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons sugar granulated or rock
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 scallions cut into 2-inch-long pieces
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Shaoxing cooking wine (紹興料酒)
  • cup pork stock the liquid from the parboiling, or water, or more as needed


  • Put the entire pork belly in a stockpot and add enough water to cover the meat completely. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn the heat to medium. Parboil the pork belly, uncovered, for 20 minutes, continuously skimming off the scum that forms on the surface. Drain, and let the pork belly cool. Then cut it into pieces about 1½ inches square.
  • Combine the sugar with 3 tablespoons of water in a wok over medium heat. Continue heating until the sugar syrup just begins to turn yellow. Add the cubed pork belly to the wok and brown it with the caramelized sugar, stirring the meat regularly to prevent burning. If you like, cover the wok with a splatter guard to prevent the fat from splattering.
  • Add the garlic, scallions, star anise, both soy sauces, wine, and stock to the wok. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then transfer the contents to a clay pot. Simmer, covered, over low heat, stirring the meat every 15 minutes to prevent scorching the pork on the bottom, for 1 hour or until the meat is tender when pierced with a knife.
  • Remove the meat and put it in a bowl. Reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until it reaches the desired consistency. Return the meat to the wok and reheat before serving.