Chinese New Year is coming, and what better way to celebrate than with a delectable Red Cooked Pork Belly?
Many moons ago as a culinary student I tried my first red cooked chicken. My instructor in that Asian Cooking class was a feisty little Cambodian female chef, who opened up a whole world of flavors to me. We learned about Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Nonya (a blend of Indian, Chinese and Malaysian) cuisine. Although I enjoyed eating Asian foods, I had no idea how to prepare them or the ingredients needed.
We toured Chinatown in San Francisco, stopping at cookware stores, Chinese grocery stores and ending the day with Dim Sum. I marveled at the live fish, shrimp and turtles in one store, happily unaware that they were hours away from being someone’s dinner. I vividly remember a box truck pulling up to a store, the driver exiting and flinging the door open to reveal numerous whole hogs hanging by their feet in the back. They were obviously freshly butchered. The driver took one down, threw it over his back, and took it in to the butchers in the store to break the carcass down for their customers.
The chef reminded us that not one piece of that pig would go unused. Not one.
I recently bought a case of pork bellies to make homemade bacon and decided to save a large piece to braise in red cooking liquid. Red cooking is a Chinese technique of braising meat in a soy based liquid with sweet and savory spices added. The long, slow simmering in the spiced liquid produces a rich, tender meat that melts in your mouth.
This red cooking sauce can be used to braise chicken, turkey, beef or pork.
Recipe: Red Cooked Pork Belly
- 3 quarts water
- 1 cup mirin
- 1 cup dark soy
- 1 cup light soy
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced
- 1 cup sliced ginger
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon Five Spice powder
- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
- 2 pound piece of fresh pork belly
- In a large pot over medium high heat combine all the ingredients except for the pork belly.
- Bring the red cooking sauce to a boil, let cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the pork belly, cover and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook the pork belly for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, until very tender.
- Remove the pork belly from the liquid, slice to serve.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 2 hour(s)
Copyright © Cheryl D Lee.
I used a piece of pork belly with the skin on, but that is optional. Ask your butcher to order the fresh pork belly for you.
I froze the red cooking sauce to use again. If you are freezing the cooking sauce, strain the solids, then let cool overnight. Remove all the solid fat from the top of the sauce, place into a resealable plastic bag and freeze for future use.