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Red Cooked Pork

Red cooked pork, a classic Chinese dish also known as Hong Shao Rou, is made with tender braised pork coated in a silky red sauce made from soy sauce, ginger, garlic, rice wine, and sugar.

Red cooked pork, or Hong Shao Rou, is a trademark Chinese dish named for the glossy sauce that clings to sigh-inducingly tender braised pork. Our testers couldn’t get enough of the sweet, salty, subtly spiced sauce that bestows full-on richness to such a simple, yet superbly satisfying, Chinese classic.–Jenny Howard

*What Is Dark Soy Sauce?

This recipe calls for both light (regular) soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Dark soy sauce contains molasses or caramel and is aged for a longer time, resulting in a more complex taste and a slightly more viscous consistency. It’s what lends red cooked pork its signature dark glaze. Dark soy sauce can be found at some grocery stores and at any Chinese supermarket (or, like everything else on the planet, on Amazon). You can easily substitute an equal amount of light (regular) soy sauce and a teaspoon or so of molasses to approximate the rich flavor of dark soy sauce.

Red Cooked Pork

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 pounds pork belly or pork shoulder or a combination, cut in 3/4- to 1-inch (2- to 2.5-cm) chunks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 to 3 cups water
  • 3 to 4 scallions, cut on the diagonal into 2-inch (5-cm) lengths (about 1/4 cup sliced)
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, smashed, or 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger root, sliced into 6 to 8 circles
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1/3 cup Shaoxing rice wine, dry sherry, or sake
  • 3 tablespoons light (regular) soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons dark soy sauce* (see NOTE above)
  • Cooked rice, for serving


  • 1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and gently boil for about 10 minutes, skimming off any scum as it forms on top of the water. Drain the pork and rinse to remove any remaining scum.
  • 2. In a large wok or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water and stir until it dissolves. Tilt the wok or skillet to swirl the mixture, without stirring, just until it bubbles and begins to turn slightly darker in certain spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Be sure to watch it carefully so that the sugar doesn’t burn as the sugar can turn from brown to black in seconds.
  • 3. Add the pork and cook it with the caramelized sugar, stirring frequently, until the pork is browned and smells fragrant, about 4 minutes.
  • 4. Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, and star anise and toss for 1 to 2 minutes to give the aromatics a quick cook. Add the rice wine, both soy sauces, and enough water to cover the pork, about 2 to 3 cups. Stir to combine and then cover and ever-so-gently simmer the pork over low heat until tender, at least 1 hour and, for maximal sublime tenderness, for up to 2 hours.
  • 5. Once the pork is tender, take a look at the cooking liquid. If you prefer a thicker sauce, transfer the pork to a plate, return the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce reduces to the desired consistency, 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to reduce the sauce too far as you’re going to want generous servings of the sauce to go over the pork and rice. Taste the sauce and, if desired, adjust with more soy sauce or sugar. Spoon the pork and sauce over rice. (You can refrigerate or freeze leftovers and gently rewarm it.)

Red Cooked Pork Recipe © 2018 Cynthia Chen McTernan. Photo © 2018 Cynthia Chen McTernan. All rights reserved. All recipes and photos used with permission of the publisher.

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