Monday, February 13, 2017

Easy Chinese Soy Braised Pork Belly 红烧肉 Hong Shao Rou

Can you imagine a vegetarian-wannabe-semi-health freak me is cooking 红烧肉?

Gosh! My family and friends who know me well will know that this is the last thing that I will ever cook for myself!!! LOL!

红烧肉 pronounced as Hong Shao Rou in Chinese is commonly known as Chinese soy braised pork belly. Although you can use other pork cuts to cook this dish, it won't be as good as the authentic one that is cooked with pork belly.

Obviously, the vegetarian-wannabe-semi-health freak me is not cooking hong shao rou for myself. I'm cooking this for my son who has been pestering me to cook this since the day he tasted the authentic hong shao rou at my friend's house.

Authentic Chinese hong shao rou? You might ask... How authentic? My friend and his wife, Mary came from Beijing. Mary told me that she learned to cook this dish from her father-in-law who is still residing in Beijing and this is exactly how her father-in-law cooks his hong shao rou. So you think... Is this recipe authentic enough?

"Mmmm... Mum, these pork are so yummy! The fatty part of the pork is like jelly and it melts in my mouth!" My son kept telling me how much he loves these pork while enjoying the dish at my friend's house.

"Can you please learn how to cook these pork from auntie Mary?"

Yes, of course... And so Mary became my cooking si fu of the day when we were at her house! LOL!

"It's easy! All you need is ginger, spring onions soy sauce, sugar and Shaoxing wine to cook these!" said Mary. She is very kind and keen to share her recipe with me.

Gosh! She has made cooking these pork belly sounded so easy and so this is how I cooked mine.

Chinese Soy Braised Pork Belly 红烧肉 Hong Shao Rou

Although this braised pork belly is easy to cook, it is important to simmer the pork to tender and the simmering time can be 45 to 60 minutes or more. Obviously, this easy recipe is not a quick dish to cook and so I have cooked a big batch of it on a Saturday and freeze portions of them for our weekday dinners.

To reduce the simmering time to half, you can choose to use pressure cooker to cook the pork until tender and use the stove again to reduce the sauce further. Plus, I can cook up to 1.5kg pork belly (double amount of the recipe) and the cooking time is still the same!
No pressure cooker? No worries! You still can use only one cooking pot to cook this dish but I strongly suggest you to cook not more than 750g pork belly if you are not cooking this dish with a pressure cooker or you will have to cook the large amount of pork for a long long long time. Zzzzzzz... LOL!

Want to see how I cooked these very yummy melt-in-your-mouth soy braised pork belly? It's really easy but just a little time consuming... LOL! Watch my video and enjoy!

"Mmmm... Mum, these pork are so yummy! They melt in my mouth!!!"

"Can I eat some pork belly now?" My son was waiting patiently behind me when I was taking these photo.

When I said yes, he gobbled up two biggest pieces of the pork belly immediately in just one mouth. Gosh!

What can I say? Happy son means happy mum? Hmmm...

Here's the recipe from Mary.

Serve 4
750g pork belly
2 tbsp light soy sauce, plus more to taste
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus more to taste
3 tbsp Shaoxing or Hua Tiao Chinese cooking wine
less than 1/2 tbsp cooking oil, to brush
5-6 cm ginger, washed and roughly cut into slices - don't need to peel
4 spring onions, washed, roots removed and roughly cut into 4-5 cm length, plus extra roughly sliced to serve if desired
boiling hot water to cook the pork until tender

Soak pork belly in adequate cool tap water for about 1 hr at room temperature to remove any blood or bad smells from the pork. Use paper towels to pat and dry off any moisture on the pork very thoroughly. Then, cut it into 4-5 cm pieces. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

While the water is cooking, combine soy sauce, sugar and cooking wine in a small bowl.

Heat a large cooking pot with medium high heat until the pot is hot enough. Apply the base of the pot with a thin layer of oil as this step will help the pork to release more oil later. Cook pork belly in 2-4 batches with any part of its skin side contacting the heated pot and cook until the pork releases its fat and golden brown at the edges. Transfer the seared pork into a plate. Set aside.

Discard almost all the pork fat in the pot, leaving about 1/2 tbsp fat in it. Continue to heat the pot and cook the ginger slices slightly for about 1 min. Return the seared pork into the pot. Add soy sauce mixture and spring onions and continue to cook and stir until the sauce starts to boil. If you are using a pressure cooker to cook, transfer all into a pressure cooker. If you are using the same cooking pot to cook, you don't have to do any transferring.

To cook until the pork is tender, pour adequate hot water into the pork (in the pressure cooker*; or the same cooking pot**) until the pork is completely covered with water. Mix well.

*If you are using a pressure cooker, cook pork belly with medium pressure for 30 mins or until the pork is tender enough to your taste.
**If you are using the same cooking pot, reduce cooking heat to low and simmer for 45-60 min with the lid on or until the pork is tender enough to your taste. Check water level. Add and stir in more boiling water if the water level is not high enough to cover the pork.

When the pork is tender enough...

**Remove the lid if you are using the same cooking and increase heat to medium heat to cook and reduce the sauce for about 15 mins or until the sauce has thickened.
*If you had used a pressure cooker, transfer all in the pressure cooker into a large cooking pot or wok and cook with medium high heat for about 15 mins or until the sauce has thickened.

Note: Due to the presence of fat in the sauce, the sauce will thicken further when the dish is removed from the heat. So, do not worry if you think that your freshly cooked sauce is not as rich as what you see in my photo.

Remove from heat. Discard the ginger slices and over-cooked spring onions. Season with more soy sauce and sugar if desired.

Serve immediately with steamed white rice or plain Chinese steamed buns.

You can keep the excess pork belly in a fridge with cover for 2 days and in a freezer up to 2 months. To serve, transfer the cold or frozen pork belly into a cooking pot and cook until it is warm enough to enjoy.

Happy Cooking
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  1. Wow, Zoe! What a beauty! I want two bowls of rice with that :D

  2. Looks yummy! My kids love it too (especially the fatty bits! arrgh). Will try this out one day :)

  3. Oh so damn delicious! Every chinese person whose had this always enjoys a good hot bowl of this over rice! :p

  4. "Bring a large pot of water to boil." What's next? What is the large pot of water for?

    1. Hi, the hot boiling water is mentioned at this step "To cook until the pork is tender, pour adequate hot water into the pork" Cheers!