Hakka Braised Pork Belly

Hakka Braised Pork Belly

Cook time: 1.5 hours  |  Total time:  2 hours  |  Serves: 4 people

One of the staples of Chinese cooking is the technique of "hong shao"—frying and braising meat in sugar that's been browned in hot oil with soy sauce and other tasty seasonings such as garlic, ginger, star anise... whatever you want. The technique is relatively easy to do and packs a rich taste. If you're too tired to deep fry tonight and don't feel like smoking up your kitchen, hong shao it instead.

Hong Shao Zhu Rou is a braised pork belly dish that's in almost every Chinese household, albeit with their own regional trademark recipes. The Shanghai version is often considered the creme of the creme. This version is the Hakka version. My mother's side of the family are Hakka, a southern group of Han Chinese who originally migrated from the North during the Song Dynasty. After emigrating to Mauritius back in the 1930s to work for the British empire, my grandparents opted to stay after the communists took over Mainland China.

One of the hallmarks of the Hakka recipe uses hong qu mi—red fermented rice, which has medicinal qualities such as lowering cholesterol. I'm not a doctor, but my friend Mia who specializes in Eastern Medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area could probably explain to us its benefits better. My aunt procured me a bag of it from Mauritius, which was originally imported from Taiwan. For more on that, you can go here. When I find a vendor in London, I'll post it here. 

What you'll need and how much

— 500g pork belly (roughly 6 by 9 inches)
— 1 1/2 tablespoons of Hong Qu Mi (fermented red rice grains) crushed
— 2 tablespoon of Shaoxing cooking wine
— 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
— 2 tablespoons of sugar
— 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
— 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
— 4 soaked wood ear mushrooms
— 1/2 cube of medium firm tofu
— 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
— 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
— 3 ginger slices
— 2 whole spring onions (scallions)
— chopped spring onions and coriander to garnish

See and Read

Or skip to abridged recipe

Try to find a slab of pork belly that has nice medium layers of fat. If the ribs are included in the belly, remove the ribs.
 

Slice the pork belly into small pieces around 1/2 inch by 1 inch. Heat a stock pot of water and boil the pork belly for 10 minutes with 4 slices of ginger and 2 spring onions. Drain, rinse in cold water and let cool.
 

Soak the wood ear mushrooms for 30 minutes and slice up into diamond shapes. Slice the tofu. Set both aside.
 

Crush the Hong Qu Mi (red rice) in a mortar & pestle.
 

Heat oil in a wok to medium hot and add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir the sugar in the oil with a wooden spoon until the sugar begins to brown. Throw the pork belly in and fry over medium heat until it lightly browns. Add the garlic and ginger.

Fry for 5 minutes. Then add the light and dark soy sauce and the shaoxing wine. Fry for an additional 5 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry and starts to smoke, add alittle water. Add the red rice and continue to fry for another 5 minutes.
 

Add 1 cup of water, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Allow to braise in the cooking mixture for 1 hour. Add the tofu, wood ear mushrooms and 1 chopped spring onion. Allow to simmer for another 30 minutes until the pork is tender.

 

Abridged Recipe

Ingredients

— 500g pork belly (roughly 6 by 9 inches)
— 1 1/2 tablespoons of Hong Qu Mi (fermented red rice grains) crushed
— 2 tablespoon of Shaoxing cooking wine
— 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
— 2 tablespoons of sugar
— 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
— 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
— 4 soaked wood ear mushrooms
— 1/2 cube of medium firm tofu
— 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
— 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
— 3 ginger slices
— 2 whole spring onions (scallions)
— chopped spring onions and coriander to garnish

Recipe:

  1. Slice the pork belly into small pieces around 1/2 inch by 1 inch. Heat a stock pot of water and boil the pork belly for 10 minutes with 4 slices of ginger and 2 spring onions. Drain and let cool.
  2. Heat oil in a wok to medium hot and add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir the sugar in the oil with a wooden spoon until the sugar begins to brown. Throw the pork belly in and fry over medium heat until it lightly browns. Add the garlic and ginger.
  3. Fry for 5 minutes. Then add the light and dark soy sauce and the shaoxing wine. Fry for an additional 5 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry and starts to smoke, add alittle water. Add the red rice and continue to fry for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of water, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Allow to braise in the cooking mixture for 1 hour. Add the tofu and wood ear mushrooms. Allow to simmer for another 30 minutes or until the pork is tender to your liking.

Photo Credits: Jenny Smart

Hainan Chicken Rice

Hainan Chicken Rice