Regional variations on Hong Sao Rou, or red braised pork can be found across China. It is said to have been one of Chairman Mao’s favourite dishes Traditionally, belly pork pieces are cooked in a braising liquid of spices and sugar, the caramelised sugar imparting a rich brown colour. However, dark soy sauce is a popular way to this dish. It adds depth and colour, giving the braising liquid a deep, reddy shine. The resulting pork should be sweet, salty and spiced and the sauce thick and sticky. I have reduced the amount of sugar to keep it healthier, but you can add more if you prefer a sweeter taste. It is best served simply with some steamed jasmine rice and stir-fried greens such as pak choy.
This recipe is from Wok On by Ching-He Huang, published by Kyle Books, £20. Photography by Tamin Jones.
Ingredients for Braised Hong Sao Pork Serves: 4
- 700g pork belly slices, rindless
- 2 tablespoons rapeseed or groundnut oil
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 3 star anise
- 1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns
- 3 long whole dried red chillies
- 250ml chicken stock
- 80ml dark soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil in a large pan. Add the pork belly slices and simmer over a medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove the pork and drain well, then pat dry with kitchen paper and slice into 2cm x 2cm pieces.
- Heat a wok over a medium heat, add the rapeseed or groundnut oil and give the oil a swirl. Add the pork pieces and brown for 2 minutes, then add the ginger, rice wine or dry sherry, the star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, dried chillies, chicken stock, dark soy sauce, brown sugar and salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a medium heat for 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and thickened slightly and is a glossy reddish-brown colour.
- Remove from the heat and serve with steamed jasmine rice and stir-fried greens of your choice.
- Ching’s Tip: For a smooth cooked sauce, strain through a sieve and discard the whole spices, or you can just eat around them like the Chinese do!