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Red Braised Pork Belly {Hong Shao Rou 红烧肉}

by Shirley
Red Braised Pork Belly {Hong Shao Rou}

Red Braised Pork Belly ( Hong Shao Rou 红烧肉 ) is one of the most popular traditional Chinese foods. With this recipe, you can cook red braised pork belly using just the wok itself in under 50 minutes. It features pork belly marinated and pan fried first before braising. I use the traditional Chinese red yeast rice as an all-natural eye catching red color. It produces super juicy, yummy and healthier pork that goes well with either rice, noodle, buns, or Scallion Pancakes.

It worth mentioning that most of the pork belly fat comes out during the cooking, which makes this red braised pork belly a healthier version.

Save the pork oil and gelatin liquid mixture left behind in the wok for later use. With this at hand, you can quickly whip out a tasty dish such as Yang Chun Noodles, Chinese Stir Fried Noodles or Chow Mein.

Red Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou 红烧肉}
Red Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou 红烧肉}

Tips & Tricks for tasty red braised pork belly:

Marinate the pork belly for 10-20 minutes first

Marinate the pork belly with Shaoxing wine in a mixing bowl. Toss, flip and mix well. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes. Toss and flip from time to time.

A quality Wok makes the cooking easier

If you cook Chinese food a lot, it makes sense to get a quality Wok with a dome-shaped lid. The wok is also quite versatile; for example, I use mine for steaming fish or buns.

Why a dome-shaped lid vs. a regular flat lid? It provides more room for the steam to circulate, therefore facilitating the cooking. This is especially important during the steaming process.

Pi Xian Doubanjiang elevates the flavor

Pi Xian Doubanjiang

Pi Xian Doubanjiang is a special and popular fermented chili & bean sauce, frequently added during cooking or for making the dipping sauce. I use 1 teaspoon for 3.5 lbs of pork belly: not a lot, just a pinch of the flavor. You may increase this up to 1 tbsp if you like spicy food.

Use pan-frying cooking first for a healthy & tasty red braised pork belly

1. It helps sear the meat for juicier pork belly

A lot of recipes call for blanching pork during the prep process to get rid of the impurities. I think it might make sense when the pork quality isn’t so great. However, if you can get decent quality fresh pork belly, as I do, there is really no need to do so. A good rinse and wash shall do the trick, as blanching takes away the flavor & juiciness of the pork.

2. It removes extra pork fat for healthier pork belly

During the pan-frying process, pork fat will come out of the pork belly. This produces a healthier pork belly with a more refreshing taste.

Pan Fried Pork Belly first for red braised pork belly
Pan Fried Pork Belly first for red braised pork belly

3. It improves productivity for easier cooking

By eliminating blanching and replacing it with pan-frying, you can use the same wok for cooking the entire time, which saves time and avoids the extra work.

4. It helps shortens the overall cooking time for faster cooking

This pan-frying step also helps shorten the overall cooking process too. It does a wonderful job cooking the pork about 30 to 40%, saving tons of time with just one simple step.

Red Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou 红烧肉}
Red Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou 红烧肉

Use red yeast rice (红曲米) as a natural source of red color

Red Yeast Rice and Red Yeast Rice Powder
Red Yeast Rice and Red Yeast Rice Powder

The shining red color of the pork belly is the signature of this beloved dish. To achieve this, some recipes burn the sugar, others use artificial food coloring. None of that is necessary when using red yeast rice or Hong Qu Mi (红曲米) as a natural source of red color.

Red yeast rice is rice that has been fermented with certain types of yeast. The fermentation process changes the color of the rice from white to red. We use red yeast rice a lot in my hometown Suzhou area as an all-natural food coloring to cook ribs, beef shanks, pork shoulders, etc. Did I mention that people also use red yeast rice as a dietary supplement to promote healthy cholesterol levels? What a bonus!

It worth mentioning that red yeast rice turns into an extremely bright red color during the initial braising process. It is a reaction of the red yeast rice to the initial high heat exposure. However, the color will become toned down toward the end of the cooking and especially after you remove the pork belly from the wok. Therefore, please don’t be over concerned if the pork belly seems a bit too red to you initially.

One-Wok Cooks Red Braised Pork Belly in 40 Minutes via Easy Steps

Red Braised Pork Belly {Hong Shao Rou} with Rice
Red Braised Pork Belly {Hong Shao Rou} with Rice

It is super easy and quick to cook this delicious meal by following this recipe. All it takes is:

  • 10 minutes pan-fry at medium-high heat
  • 15 minutes braise at medium-high heat
  • 10 minutes braise at medium and then 5 minutes at low heat

Red Braised Pork Belly Frequently Asked Questions:

Should I use whole red yeast rice or grind them first?

If you have a coffee or herb grinder, I recommend grinding red yeast rice first. You will need one tbsp for about 3.5 lb pork belly. Use 2 tablespoons if you use the red yeast rice without grinding.

How do I know the pork belly is ready?

Toward the end of the braising, you will notice most of the liquid disappearing, replaced with the pork fat oil. This is a sign that the pork belly is ready!

Freshly Cooked Red Braised Pork Belly {Hong Shao Rou}
Freshly Cooked Red Braised Pork Belly {Hong Shao Rou}

What do I do with the juice left in the Wok after cooking Red Braised Pork Belly?

Save it! The juice is loaded with flavor and yumminess. It consists of partial pork gelatin and partial flavored pork belly fat. I always save them and store them in a jar in the refrigerator. With this, you can quickly whip out delicious Yang Chun Noodle in no time. It is also the secret for a quick & tasty Chow Mein.

Red Braised Pork Belly {Hong Shao Rou}

Red Braised Pork Belly Recipe (Hong Shao Rou 红烧肉)

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Red braised pork belly is one of the most well-liked traditional Chinese food. This recipe produces healthier & juicier yummy pork in less than 50 minutes.

Ingredients

For Marinating:

  • 2 lb Pork Belly
  • 4 tbsp Shaoxing wine

For Pan-Frying:

  • 8 ginger thin slices
  • 2 stalk of green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp organic raw cane sugar

For Braising Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce, see notes
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Zhenjiang Vinegar
  • 2 star-anises
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp ground red yeast rice
  • 1 tsp Pi Xian Doubanjiang

For Braising:

  • 2 cups of water

Instructions

Preparation:

  1. Wash and rinse the pork belly well, pat dry with a paper towel, and cut into bite-size cubes. Place the pork belly chunks into a mixing bowl, add Shaoxing Wine, toss and mix well. Let it rest for 10-20 minutes. Flip and toss from time to time.
  2. Add everything under "For Braising Sauce" into a small bowl, mix well.
  3. Chop green onions and cut ginger into slices.
  4. Drain the pork belly. Discard the juice left behind in the mixing bowl.

Pan-Fry:

  1. Turn the heat on medium-high. Heat the wok for 2 minutes.
  2. Add ginger and green onions into the wok, stir for 5 seconds. Save some green onion for the final garnishing.
  3. Add pork belly chunks into the wok. Immediately turn and flip non stop for about 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle sugar over pork belly, and continue to flip and turn for another 5 minutes.

Braise:

  1. Pour the braising sauce in the small bowl into the wok in a circular motion. Flip and mix with the pork belly for about 15 seconds.
  2. Pour 2 cups of water into the wok in a circular motion around the edge of the wok. Use a mini silicone spatula to scrape clean the small bowl and add to the wok if needed. Fold and mix well with the pork, cover the wok with a lid and cook for 15 minutes
  3. Remove the lid, flip and turn the pork belly chunks about 15 seconds using a slotted turner gently to make sure all sides and all pieces are braised in the sauce, and evenly cooked.
  4. Turn the heat to medium, cover the lid, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. The braising in the wok should be pretty much disappearing by now and replaced with the pork oil seeping out of the pork belly. Turn the heat to low and continue to fold and turn for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat.
  6. All done! Remove the pork belly chunks from the wok using a slotted turner so that you only fetch the pork but not the oil.
  7. To save the juice left in the wok, wait for the wok to cool down a little and then scoop out the cooked pork fat/oil/gelatin liquid mixture and pour into a glass jar with a lid. Wait until the jar to cool to room temperature, and then store in the fridge.

Notes

  • Regular soy sauce or Jiang You (酱油) is traditionally & naturally brewed soy sauce. You may use aged soy sauce or dark soy sauce as substitute.
  • Water should be just a little above the line covering pork belly in the wok.
  • Red yeast rice turns into an extremely bright red color during the initial braising process. It is a reaction of the red yeast rice to the initial high heat exposure. However, the color will become toned down toward the end of the cooking and especially after you remove the pork belly from the wok. Therefore, please don't be over concerned if the pork belly seems a bit too red to you initially.
  • Save the liquid mixture left in the wok. It is a combination of pork fat and gelatin. They are in liquid form initially in the wok. Once you store it in the fridge, it turn into half gelatin and half pork fat. It is essential to make delicious Yang Chun Noodle or a super yummy Chow Mein.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 836Total Fat: 50gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 191mgSodium: 1033mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 57g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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2 comments

eat chimac January 27, 2021 - 4:09 am

I really loved it,Thanks For Sharing this with us ,i will definitely try this ..

Reply
Shirley January 27, 2021 - 11:56 pm

You are very welcome! Let me know how it turns out and any questions or comments you might have.

Reply

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