Chinese Soul Food
This recipe from Chinese Soul Food is a two-fer. First, you make luscious, sticky red-braised pork belly (fragrant with star anise, ginger, garlic, and rice wine), which you can eat with steamed rice for one meal—but be sure to save some so you can cook the pork again, this time in a wok with aromatics and peppers until the vegetables are tender and the pork is crispy and glazed. You may even want to make a little extra red-braised pork just to ensure you have enough to enjoy it both ways.
What to buy: Chinese rock sugar (also called bing tang) is crystallized refined sugar in the form of translucent clear or sometimes golden-colored lumps similar in size and shape to gravel. You can buy rock sugar online, or look for it in Asian markets or in health and natural foods stores. But you can also substitute regular granulated sugar if need be.
For more porcine perfection, get our Sisig (Filipino Sizzling Pork) recipe, and our Porchetta recipe too.
For the Red-Braised Pork Belly:
- 1 pound skin-on pork belly
- 7 1/2 cups water, divided
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine or dry Marsala wine
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons rock sugar
- 2 stalks green onions, cut into 3-inch segments
- 3 to 4 large slices fresh ginger, cut on the bias (about 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick)
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, gently smashed
- 1 star anise
For the Twice-Cooked Pork:
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 medium red or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 small jalapeño, sliced
- 2 stalks green onions, cut into 2-inch segments
- 2 large cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 to 1 cup braising liquid from Red-Braised Pork Belly (strained; if liquid has been refrigerated and solidified, you can add it in its gelled state to the wok)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
- 2 cups sliced Red-Braised Pork Belly
To make the Red-Braised Pork Belly:
1Position the pork belly with the skin side down. Using a sharp knife, cut the pork belly into roughly 1 1/2-inch-square pieces. The skin will take a little extra pressure to cut through, so be careful. Combine the pork and 3 cups of the water in a 4- or 5-quart pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes to release some of the scum. Turn off the heat and, using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the pork to a medium bowl. Discard the water and carefully rinse out the pot.
2Return the pot to the stove over high heat. Add the pork belly, 4 cups of the water, the wine, soy sauce, sugar, onions, ginger, garlic, and star anise, bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 1 hour, checking occasionally and stirring to make sure all the meat pieces spend some time submerged in the braising liquid. After an hour, if the sauce seems overly salty, add the remaining 1/2 cup water. Check the tenderness of the largest piece of pork belly with a fork. If there’s any resistance, the pork will need to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more. As the pork simmers, the sauce will continue to reduce, intensify in flavor, and become a caramel. After 10 minutes, repeat the fork test. Once the pork belly is tender, increase the heat to medium to speed up the reduction process. Stir constantly to prevent sticking and to ensure that all the pork belly pieces are evenly coated with the caramel. When nearly all of the liquid has reduced, remove the pot from the heat. Arrange the pork belly on a serving plate or bowl, and serve with steamed rice.
To make the Twice-Cooked Pork:
1Preheat a wok over high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Add the oil and heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the bell peppers and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until they start to soften. Add the jalapeño, onions, and garlic, and stir-fry for a few seconds to combine. Add the braising liquid and the ginger, and stir-fry for a few seconds before adding the pork belly. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. As the pork comes back to temperature and the sauce coats all the ingredients, everything will start to look glossy, and the sauce will reduce and thicken. Serve with steamed rice.
©2018 by Hsiao-Ching Chou. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Chinese Soul Food by permission of Sasquatch Books. Photograph by Clare Barboza.
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