Hong Shao Rou (Shanghainese Braised Pork Belly)

This dish is deeply personal. It’s something my mom would make for us. Comfort food. But more importantly, it’s something that her grandma made for my mom. I never knew my grandparents, so it’s only through food that I feel a close connection with them.

“Hong Shao” translates directly into “red cooking”. It refers to a method of cooking in which items are braised in soy sauce and dark soy sauce, lending it its gorgeous color.

Ingredients (feeds ~3-4):

  • 1.5 pounds of pork belly, ideally skin-on. I prefer slightly leaner pieces.
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (quantity of sauces is not as important as the ratios, you want equal amounts of everything)
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar or rock sugar
  • 3 thin slices of ginger
  • Aromatics: You can add in additional aromatics like a piece of star anise but according to my mom, her grandma never did.


  • Slice pork belly into 1 inch cubes and add them into a pot and cover with cold water.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and rinse meat under running cold water, making sure you wash off the scum.
  • Add pork belly into pot along with all sauces and ginger, excluding the sugar
  • Add enough water so that the pork belly is mostly covered with the braising liquid
  • Simmer and braise for 60-90 minutes over low heat, giving the pork belly a stir every 20-30 minutes
  • Add in sugar and simmer for another 10 minutes
  • Remove lid and turn heat to medium, allowing sauce to reduce, for ~10-15 minutes. I like to leave it a little saucier to have it for my veg and rice
  • *Note if you’re going to pour the sauce over your rice: depending on how fatty your pork belly, there will be a pretty thick layer of oil floating at the top (you’ll see it, it’s a clear layer floating at the top). Skim that bit off with a spoon so that you’re not just eating straight oil (I have learned from my mistakes)