Extra (Ap)petite: Mom’s Chinese Braised Pork Belly

extra petite chinese new year cooking recipe

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe on the blog, but with Lunar New Year right around the corner, it seemed like the right time to cook up some traditional Chinese comfort food (see more recipe ideas here)! My brothers and I would get so excited whenever my mom made this dish, and I like that her simplified version uses just a handful of ingredients. When I shared this on Instagram stories, so many of you also said it evoked memories of your moms or grandmas cooking a similar dish in all types of cultures!

This was Nick’s first time trying the Chinese version of this dish, and he could barely stop between mouthfuls to let out a muffled “yurrrrmmmy”. And be sure to make extra because it tastes even better as leftovers.

3.5qt Le Creuset Pot (perfect size for 2; we also have & love the 5.5qt), gold pot knob sz M

The soy, sugar, and cooking wine caramelize the pork belly for a tender, savory dish with a touch of sweetness. The recipe calls for both light and dark soy sauce – light soy is thinner and used in everyday cooking and dips, while dark soy is a thicker, less salty sauce that’s been aged longer. These plus shaoxing cooking wine are staples used in a ton of Chinese recipes, so consider them minor pantry investments that will pay tasty, tasty dividends! If you have trouble finding these, I occasionally resort to paying a premium on Amazon to get my favorite brands (note: Pearl River Bridge is the gold standard for soy sauce in Chinese kitchens – I was fooled by similar packaging!). 

As with most good Asian cooking, everything is added “to taste” and precise measurements don’t exist per elder generations. I called my mom and hard-of-hearing grandma to clarify sauce amounts, and they emphatically shouted ambiguous techniques over the phone (“just add more until it tastes good!!”). I tried to translate into ratios below, but every recipe for this dish will vary a bit so please adjust to your liking!

For add-ins, our family loves hard boiled eggs, which may seem like an strange addition, but they’re great served with the sauce and are a kid pleaser! We also like taro or potato cubes, plus a side of greens to round out a very satisfying bowl.

Mom’s Chinese Braised Pork Belly (“hong shao rou”)

Core Ingredients:
  • 1.5 lbs pork belly (can also try this with pork shoulder, pork ribs, or a mix of two)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (my mom uses olive or grapeseed)
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger, roughly peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or Chinese rock sugar
  • 2 tablespoons shaoxing cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • Approximately 2 to 3 cups hot water (boil in a kettle or heat it up in microwave)
  • Optional: 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped, and 2-3 cloves star anise
Optional mix-ins (add during final 30 min of braising):
  • Hard boiled eggs, peeled
  • Potato or taro cubes

chinese hong shao rou recipe ingredients


1. Blanch
Boil a pot of water and blanch the meat for 3-5 minutes to get rid of impurities. Remove meat with tongs and cut into 1 inch cubes. Discard the blanching water.

2. Sauté
In your braising pot, sauté the oil with ginger slices over medium heat until fragrant. Add in meat cubes and cook until lightly browned.

chinese cooking braised pork belly recipe extra petite

3. Mix in Sauce
Add cooking wine, sugar, both soy sauces and stir to coat the meat evenly. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes to let the sauces seep in.

4. Simmer Covered
Pour in hot water until the meat pieces are almost covered. (NOTE: If you plan on adding mix-ins like potatoes / taro and eggs, you’ll need a little more water and the sugar / light soy / dark soy ratio to taste.) Bring to a gentle simmer and cover the lid for approximately 40 minutes, stirring very occasionally (avoid opening the lid too often).

Yes, you can also make this with the popular InstantPot which I do have and enjoy. But sometimes it’s nice to do a good old-fashioned braising on the stove top!

white le creuset dutch oven pot gold knob handle

Optional: De-fat
At this point, my mom removes the meat with a slotted spoon, skims off any visible fat on the top layer, and then puts the meat back into the pot. Or you could just de-fat the leftovers the next day, after they have time to chill in the fridge.

5. Adjust to Taste + Add Mix-Ins
Taste the sauce and adjust soy, sugar, and water ratios to your liking, making sure the water level isn’t drying out. Continue simmering with lid covered for another 30 minutes or until pork is tender. If you’re adding mix-ins, do so in the last 15-20 minutes so the root vegetables don’t get too mushy.

hong shao rou chinese red pork belly recipe eggs

6. Reduce Sauce
Remove the lid and turn up the heat to medium so the sauce reduces down and thickens a bit. Serve hot over jasmine rice!

chinese lunar new year recipes pork belly rice

Does your family or culture make a similar variation of this dish? I’d love to hear about it!


60 thoughts on “Extra (Ap)petite: Mom’s Chinese Braised Pork Belly

  • Reply Wentz January 26, 2019 at 3:14 am

    I usually marinate the pork belly in the sauce (I include five spice powder) in advance so the sauce have ample time to seep into the meat before I saute the meat. 🙂

    • Reply Lily April 7, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      Tha’s an excellent idea. Thanks.

  • Reply Melnick PIERRE January 26, 2019 at 4:56 am

    That recipe looks so delicious !
    May I ask you which camera do you use to make your photos ? They are really nice !

    Thank you !

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 26, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      Thank you! We use a Canon 5D Mark IV.

  • Reply Hannah January 26, 2019 at 5:21 am

    Oh my goodness thank you so much for putting together the recipe! I tried to ask my mom how she cooks this dish and it was the same thing: she would say “add this much sauce!” and then pour an unquantifiable amount in the pot. Or use the standard measurement of her fingertip. Was quite frustrating! I appreciate this post so much, going to make it next weekend!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 26, 2019 at 2:38 pm

      Ah…nothing more exact than the fingertip measurement lol (always the answer I get when I ask about water to rice ratios).

  • Reply Janine January 26, 2019 at 5:53 am

    There is no similar dish in my culture, but I think it is super interesting to read about what traditional meals there are in other countries!
    I also adore that title for this post haha!
    Xx Janine

  • Reply Roses for Fridays | by mia January 26, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Yessss one of the best home cook dish recipe in the Asian world! Love ♥️it!


  • Reply Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog January 26, 2019 at 7:22 am

    My mum always makes this dish! It’s one of the most warming dishes you can have in winter. Mmmm! Chinese food for the win! 🙂 ❤️


  • Reply Anika May January 26, 2019 at 7:42 am

    This looks absolutely delicious! I can already guess that it’s so tasty 🙂

    Anika | anikamay.co.uk

  • Reply klebefolie January 26, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    That was delicious! I just made it. My Kids and I both loved it. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply AV January 26, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Did you use the 3.5 or the 5.5 pot for this recipe?

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 26, 2019 at 7:45 pm

      The pot pictured is the 3.5Qt!

  • Reply Tnl January 26, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    The Vietnamese version I make is with fish sauce, no soy sauce, and I carmelize sugar and water for the color.

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 26, 2019 at 7:45 pm

      Yum! I’ve heard more about this from friends and it sounds amazing.

  • Reply Briana January 26, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    Wow this looks so tasty! I wish I could cook like this!


  • Reply Ivy January 26, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    Yes! In Vietnamese cuisine, we have a similar dish where we caramelise sugar, add the pork belly and hard boiled eggs and braise in coconut juice. It’s savoury (thanks to the salt, pepper and fish sauce) and sweet (due to the sugar and coconut juice). It’s also something traditional that we would make in our house for Lunar New Year (Tết in Vietnamese).

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 26, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      My friend was just telling me about the coconut juice or soda used sometimes as well. It sounds so good, I’ll have to try this version sometime!

  • Reply Lily January 26, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    I can’t wait to try this! Can you share how you make your baby bok choy?

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 26, 2019 at 7:47 pm

      Hi Lily! I simply blanche them in boiling water for a 1 minute (sometimes even less as I like them to maintain as much as their original texture and green color as possible) and finish with a light sprinkle of salt. My mom stir fries them lightly with a little oyster sauce.

  • Reply Jessica January 26, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    It sounds very much like our Filipino adobo, but using siaoxing instead of vinegar. Looks delicious! Will definitely try your version.

  • Reply Donna January 26, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    We have a similar, much-loved dish from my hometown in the Philippines. The general concensus in the family was that the fattier the cut of pork, the tastier the dish would be! And yes, the hardboiled eggs were essential. There was absolutely no sympathy for stragglers to the table when they found out that all the eggs were gone! 😀 Thankfully, we siblings have learned how to make this dish. We’ve even made and brought it a few times while camping in the mountains because it’s so stable and is really just awesome comfort food. Thanks for posting because it reminds me I must make this again!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 28, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Loved this, especially the part about no sympathy for stragglers missing out on the eggs ; ) I’ll have to ask Nick’s mom who is from Cebu about the Philippines version! She makes adobo but I’ve never had a dish with hard boiled eggs in it too.

  • Reply Dianne January 26, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    Would you (or Nick) say this is the Chinese version of the Filipino adobo?

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 28, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Dianne, it definitely shares some similarities! But there is no vinegar in this and has sugar.

  • Reply Kate January 26, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    My Chinese dad makes this all the time. We call it Chinese adobo here in the Philippines 🙂 though he skips adding the cooking wine 🙂 i call the eggs “adobo eggs” and they are my favorite as a kid. 🙂

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 28, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      Adobo eggs! I hope my baby will grow up loving them too ; )

  • Reply Charlie January 26, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    This recipe sounds so delicious and I love your outfit too. I am def going to try making this for dinner one night this week.


  • Reply Gabrielle January 26, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    This looks delicious! How long do you cook for in the Instant pot?

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 28, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Gabrielle, for the instant pot I would use the sautee setting to do the first part with the oil, ginger, and pork browning, before using the pressure cooker setting for about 25-30 minutes. You’ll probably need less water total in the IP but the meat pieces should be nearly submerged. If you’re adding mix-ins like taro or eggs, you can do that again on the sautee low setting after the pressure cooker is done and releases the pressure.

  • Reply Beth January 26, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Omg this was so good!!! I made it today. I didn’t have cooking wine so I subbed rice vinegar and it turned out great!! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 28, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      I’m SO happy to hear that! And good to know about the substitution in case we’re out of cooking wine here when I’m making this.

  • Reply Anna January 26, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    I’m mouthwatering over this right now!! I will be making this tomorrow! Thanks for sharing Jean!

  • Reply CC January 26, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    Although the brand of soya sauce you use is what my mom always used, I heard it’s not authentically brewed. It’s “fake” and apparently not good for you because of the chemicals. . I wish it wasn’t true because it’s so tasty. Read the ingredients and you’ll see

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 28, 2019 at 12:47 pm

      Which brand? I looked up pearl river bridge but didn’t find any info related to this.

  • Reply Mani January 27, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    This looks amazing!! I’m Lao and my mum makes a similar dish, but she caramelises the sugar. Come to think of it, I think most Asian countries have its own version! It’s definitely the ultimate comfort food 🙂


  • Reply Elizabeth T. January 27, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    This looks sooo good <3 🙂 This is one of my favorite dishes! Can't wait to try your recipe!

    XO, Elizabeth T.

  • Reply Maureen January 27, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    You just made me hungry…thanks a lot! Lol This dish looks so good . We have a similar dish in the Philippines called adobo. Cute sweater btw.

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

  • Reply JS January 27, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Jean, where do you get your pork belly in Boston?
    Thank you for the recipe! 🙂

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite January 28, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      Hi! You can get it at any asian grocery – I go to Super 88 in Allston, New York Mart in the South End, C-mart in Chinatown grocery stores or H-Mart will probably have the best quality.

  • Reply Judy January 28, 2019 at 12:39 am

    Thank you for sharing!! OMG I’m Dominican, and our family and older generations cool the same way! There is no such thing as measurements.. it’s all season to taste.. a little.. some.. etc. Haha Super hard for my mom to share her recipes!

  • Reply Lily January 29, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    How many servings does this make?

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite February 5, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      Hi Lily – I’m sorry, I actually have no idea how to gauge serving sizes with my family’s cooking! This was enough for 3 of us to eat twice with rice and veggies, so approximately 5 to 6 servings?

  • Reply Rachael January 29, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Hi JEan, this is a wonderful dish. I wanted to make it this sunday when I cooked chinese make the dishes that can be cooked quick. With 2 little ones (2.5 and 6 months) . We stayed in Shanghai for 2 years and loved chinese food. I am indian and we are introduced to indian version of chinese food when we are kids.

    What I wanted to ask you is can this dish be made in Chicken. I know pork is what the original recipe calls for but wanted to hear if you had other versions of it.

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite February 5, 2019 at 5:53 pm

      Hi Rachael, I’m impressed that you make time to cook with two babies! I wish I could cook Indian food better as it’s one of Nick’s most favorite cuisines, but I have never quite gotten the spices and seasonings right so we always end up ordering it from restaurants instead ; )

      I have not made this with chicken before, however there’s a popular Taiwanese dish called “three cups chicken” that I’m sure you could reduce the garlic and add some sugar to for a similar flavor! https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017456-three-cup-chicken

      • Reply Rachael March 31, 2019 at 2:16 pm

        Hi jean, today I made your dish with chicken and it came out very well. I loved it, it’s not the same as pork and the stickness of it but it had its own flavor. I also added tofu to the dish.

        It just workea out with my husband helping a lot.. he has been travelling a lot lately with work and I have been working long hours as well. Cooking 3 dishes 1 time which last me couple of days is what I like to do. That way I get home cooked food as often as I can.. you will get the hang of it..

        Also Indian food is very simple and easy.. you just need 4 inderidence in terms of spices.. chillie powder, corriender powder, cumin powder and turmeric powder. You will be able to cook most of the Indian foods with these 4.

  • Reply Tracey January 30, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    This looks like Japanese “Oden”. One of the main ingredients is Daikon radish (Mooli) which is like a white, long turnip. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite February 5, 2019 at 5:53 pm

      Yum! I love that with the fish cake and eggs.

  • Reply Julia Vose February 3, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    I made this tonight and it was outstanding!!!!!! So easy and so comforting. Would love more recipes like this – thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite February 5, 2019 at 5:59 pm

      Hi Julia, that makes me (and my mom) so happy to hear!

  • Reply Carmen February 4, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    I made this for my family’s Chinese New Year dinner, and they loved it. Thank you for sharing the recipe. It was delicious!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite February 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm

      Happy Chinese New Year, Carmen! So thrilled to hear that your family enjoyed it.

  • Reply Linna February 7, 2019 at 1:59 am

    Thank you for this post – it was a timely inspiration for me for serving dinner for CNY eve! Though not traditionally eaten on the eve of Chinese New Year, my family still loved it. Thanks!!

  • Reply Ta February 9, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Happy Chinese lunar new year to you and your family, I have been following you since I don’t know when, maybe since 2010 or 2011, wowww such a long time,. May new year bring you and your loved one full of happiness, laugh and peace.
    In a side note, I have the Le Creuset too and the dish is perfect to use with that.
    Seem like on William Sonoma website, the white color (3 1/2 size ) sold out.

  • Reply Anna February 14, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Jean! I made this last night and it was really good! I think I like it even better than the Vietnamese version. You can see a pic of it in the link below. I have long been a lurker here but I just had to tell you and thank you for your easy-to-make recipe. Will definitely be doing it again! I also bought that pink dress on impulse even though I have no idea when I’d wear it, just because it looked so pretty on you.

  • Reply Anna February 14, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Oh yeah, I didn’t have any brown sugar so I used honey and I think it actually gave it a nice kind of glaze that I don’t imagine you’d get from brown sugar. It was honey from my friend’s own beehives so that was extra-cool!

  • Reply Joanna March 2, 2019 at 12:39 am

    Is it possible to use a slow cooker for this dish??
    Also how did you make the veggies?? Look yummy!!

  • Reply Anne-Lise March 26, 2019 at 8:03 am

    I made this yesterday and it was amazing! I’m hungry just thinking about it again. For the bokchoy I also sprinkled with fried garlic bits. Thank you for sharing and look forward to more recipes from you / your mum.

  • Reply Mimi Cobarrubias April 2, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Looks delish! Does ur mom make Chinese tea eggs? Would love a recipe for that! Mine just isn’t the same!

  • Reply Yihan April 3, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Yes! I love the Jack and Amy instant pot version of this too: https://www.pressurecookrecipes.com/instant-pot-taiwanese-braised-pork/

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