Chinese Braised Pork Belly


This dish is called red-cooked pork, or hong shao rou in Mandarin. It's delicious served on steamed buns or over rice. Caramelized sugar, star anise, and sherry give the braising liquid a complex flavor, and a combination of soy sauce and molasses gives the finished sauce its rich, mahogany color. Serve on steamed buns (such as Andrea's Steamed Buns on this site).

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
2 hrs 25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
24 pieces


  • 3 pounds skinless pork belly

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • cup white sugar

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • 4 cups water, or more if needed

  • 5 large green onions, diagonally cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed

  • ½ cup fino dry sherry

  • ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons dark molasses

  • 8 whole star anise

  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced

  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced


  1. Cut pork into eight 2x3-inch pieces.

  2. Heat oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over high heat. In 2 batches, sear pork, fat sides first, until light golden, 30 to 60 seconds per side. Transfer to a plate. Pour out all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of the drippings.

  3. Add 1/3 cup sugar to pot; melt, stirring if needed, over medium-high heat. Cook until a light caramel color, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium, then return pork to pot, turning pieces to coat. When sugar darkens to an orange color, after about 1 minute, add water; stir to loosen any sugar stuck to the bottom.

  4. Add green onions, garlic, sherry, soy sauce, molasses, star anise, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. If needed, add up to 1/2 cup additional water to nearly cover pork. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, turning occasionally, until a knife inserted 1/4 inch into the fat layer meets little resistance, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

  5. Transfer pork to a plate with a slotted spoon; loosely cover. Skim fat and drain solids from cooking liquid. Return 4 cups liquid to pot and bring to a boil; simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Sauce will thicken more as it cools.

  6. Slice pork into twenty-four 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Working in batches, warm pork with half the sauce in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Turn pork frequently to coat and, if desired, let sear slightly. Garnish with cucumber slices and sliced green onion.

Cook's Notes:

Look for pork belly at Asian markets or specialty butchers. If you can't find it, you can use pork shoulder as a substitute; just shred it and discard the fat after braising.

Pork and sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and chilled separately in airtight containers.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

279 Calories
17g Fat
16g Carbs
15g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 279
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 41mg 14%
Sodium 1285mg 56%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 4mg 18%
Calcium 35mg 3%
Iron 2mg 8%
Potassium 361mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.