Shanghai Pork Belly

My husband and I are inching our way toward middle age, so we’ve been trying to eat less meat and more vegetables. None of us are health-obsessed nut jobs, though… If muffin tops weren’t a concern, we’d devour everything in sight. My friend and I often go to a specialty store or bakery for no other reason than to window shop. A notable exception is hong shao rou or Shanghai Pork Belly.

Therefore, we now eat relatively healthy foods by including many vegetables in our home-cooked meals. Thanks to viewers like you, pork is on the menu tonight (and a vegetable, of course). After all, we’re just satisfying the public’s appetite.

Shanghai-Style Pork belly braised in red sauce (hong shao rou) is a staple of Chinese cuisine. Everyone is familiar with it, and numerous variations and parodies have been created. Squid (we know it sounds weird, but trust us, it’s delicious), hard-boiled eggs, and tofu knots are among the more well-known additions.

Mei Cai Kou Rou, a famous steamed pork belly dish, and Braised Pork Belly with Arrowroot, a Cantonese New Year’s favorite, are two more popular ways to prepare pork belly.

Cantonese roast pork belly and twice-cooked pork belly are two other excellent alternatives.

The list goes on, but as a native Shanghaiite, I always stick to making the simple, authentic version. Since I’m only feeding three people here, this shanghai pork belly recipe has been scaled accordingly; however, it can easily be multiplied by two or three to feed a larger group. You’ll need to make some changes to the cooking time.

All you need is some pork belly, oil, sugar (granulated or rock), wine, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Yes, there are only SIX components. How ludicrous!


  • 12 oz. of lean, skin-on pork belly
  • 2 tbsp. of oil
  • 1 tbsp. of rock sugar (you can use granulated sugar)
  • 3 tbsp. of Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp. of soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp. of dark soy sauce
  • 2 cups of water


  1. To begin, slice the pork belly into pieces about 3/4 inches thick.
  2. Do something like bringing water to a boil. The pork belly should be blanched for a few minutes. This begins the cooking process while also removing any contaminants. Rinse the pork in cold water and set it aside.
  3. Start by heating the wok with the oil and sugar over low heat. Add the pork to the sugar after it has melted slightly. Brown the pork on all sides by increasing the heat to medium.
  4. Once again, reduce the heat to low and add the shaoxing cooking wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and water.
  5. To achieve the desired hue and flavor depth, use both types of soy sauce. Buy a bottle of each at your neighborhood Asian supermarket, and you’ll be set for 12 months!
  6. Fork-tender pork, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour over medium heat. To avoid burning, stir every 5-10 minutes and add water as needed.
  7. When the pork is fork-tender, uncover the wok, increase the heat, and frequently stir until the sauce has reduced to a glossy coating or until the liquid has evaporated.
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