Many cultures braise pork and pork belly, but one Chinese method can be translated roughly into red-cooking, whose name comes from the reddish tint that the food takes on from the braising liquid.
This recipe is really easy, and you could use any number of meats or poultry. I had read that some chefs are able to reuse the red-braising sauce dozens of times, with the complex flavors strengthening with each batch. My guess is there’s a system for keeping it safe from bacteria, so maybe not a good idea to try before doing a little research.
The resulting pork belly from this method of cooking is absolutely tender (but not mushy) and very flavorful. It is a rich dish, best served over rice and with stir-fried vegetable. If pork belly is too fatty for your palate, cubed pork shoulder works very well, too.
What you’ll need:
- 1 cinnamon stick (about 2-3 inches)
- 2-3 whole star anise
- 2-inch piece of ginger, thickly sliced, then smashed
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup sake or dry sherry
- ¼ cup regular soy sauce
- ¼ cup dark soy sauce
- 4-5 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
- 1.5-2.5 lbs pork belly (skin on, if possible) cut into 2” cubes (pork shoulder works, too, for a less fatty meal)
What to do:
Add all of the ingredients accept the pork belly to a large wok or large vessel appropriate for braising. Bring it to a medium boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every so often.
Add the pork belly or pork to the braising liquid, ensuring that it is mostly submerged, and cook at a light-medium simmer for three hours. Do not let the braising liquid get to a rolling boil. Turn the pieces every so often with a spoon or tongs.
When the meat is tender, it’s ready.
To serve, let it cool for a few minutes, then either put it on a platter and drizzle some of the braising sauce on it, or serve over rice (this makes a rice bowl) with braising sauce drizzled over the meat and rice. Can be garnished with sliced scallion greens.
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