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.
*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
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.
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.
Add the pork and cook it with the caramelized sugar, stirring frequently, until the pork is browned and smells fragrant, about 4 minutes.
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.
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.)
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This red cooked pork recipe really surprised me. I loved how easily it comes together and, for a recipe with relatively few ingredients, it's SO flavorful. I'd suggest not reducing the sauce too much as it's really good when you serve this with rice.
I used boneless rib-end chops and dry sherry. I used regular light soy sauce (6 tablespoons) plus 1 tablespoon molasses.
Tasted great the day of and great the day after. I'd LOVE it if it was a little saucier, though, as by the second day there was practically no sauce left.
I served this dish on an extremely cold and windy night and it got a great reception. The heat imparted by the ginger was nicely balanced by the sweetness of the sugar and the star anise. I watched as the plates got cleared.
I used pork shoulder cut into 1-inch chunks. I actually cooked the dish for an hour and a half and the pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender. I used dry sherry as I could not find the rice wine suggested.
My leftovers were very limited, a sign of how well received the dish was, and they reheated nicely for lunch the next day.