This iconic Chinese dish is laced with star anise, cinnamon, and ginger, with a perfect balance of salty and sweet.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin
If you goons are going to be making red cooked pork at home, you better do it the right way and represent.
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
1 pound pork belly, lean cut preferred
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
3 scallions, white and green parts, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 dried red chiles
1 (2-inch) piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick
1 (3/4 inch) piece fresh ginger, unpeeled and sliced
1 star anise
Light (regular) soy sauce, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
cooked white rice, for serving
1. Fill a wok with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pork and cook slightly, for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cool. Discard the cooking liquid.
2. When the pork is cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces.
3. Put the sugar and oil into the wok and heat over medium-high. When the sugar melts, increase the heat and stir until the sugar caramelizes and turns golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Lower the heat slightly, add the pork the rice wine. Add water to just cover the pork, about 3 cups. Add 2/3 of the scallions, the chiles, cassia, ginger, and star anise and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, until the pork is tender, about 45 minutes.
5. Uncover and bring to a boil. Reduce the mixture by half, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with the sugar, soy, and salt. Aim for a savory, faintly sweet flavor.
6. To serve, transfer to a bowl and garnish with the remaining scallion. Serve with rice.
The recipe was adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop (W. W. Norton 2007).