Red Braised Pork (红烧肉)

April 14th, 2020 (updated November 28th, 2022)

Prep: 15 minutes

Cooking: 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves as a dish for 4

红烧肉 - Red braised pork is a delicious dish made in many different variations. This is the version that I was taught by my mom through videos sent to me on WeChat (let me know if you want to see them!) and through watching my sister make this. It's also my favorite dish as a child growing up - my parents/grandparents still make this for me whenever I'm home! This was my first time cooking this so there will be many changes and improvements to come!

If I brought this outside it'd be arrested for public indecency


1. Cut the leek into 1/3 inch pieces. Skin the ginger and chop into slices. Prepare two to three star anises. Note: use more leek than this if you can spare it! I also like to sometimes chope some scallion in as well.

2. Chop pork into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces - your pork is going to shrink a bit after being cooked. If you're cutting pork belly try to cut pieces that have both fat, skin and lean meat into one piece (so you have 3 different textures in one bite!).

3. (Optional) Blanch the pork slices for < 1 minute. If you have really high quality pork you could probably get away with just washing your pork slices.

4. Heat up the oil and sugar in your wok on medium-high heat until the sugar melts and turns into a brown liquid. Add the blanched pork to the wok and stir-fry until the sugar and oil coat the pork evenly.

5. Add enough water into the wok so that the pork is just sticking out a bit. Add your dark soy, cut up leeks, ginger and star anise into the pot. Cover and wait for the wok to come to a simmer.

6. Simmer on medium to medium-low heat until liquid has reduced until a sauce, about 45 minutes to an hour. This needs to simmer for at least 45 minutes! If the pot becomes too dry add water accordingly. At around the midway point you may notice a thick layer of oil from the pork fat. Skim this off if you don't want an oily sauce.

7. Once the liquid reduces after the set time to your desired sauciness, you're finished! Dr. Jia (my mom) recommends you reduce the pork down until some of the pork fat starts to render for a more 香 (fragrant/umami) dish. Serve right away (if you don't have any more 菜 to make!).

8. Enjoy your red braised pork with a nice serving of rice and other dishes! If you happen to have leftovers this dish and it's sauce makes the most ridiculous fried rice.


NOTE: All of these ingredients are approximate - I didn't measure anything and I don't think you'll need to either!

  • Pork (I use a mix (2:1) of pork belly and shoulder) - ~750g
  • Leek (large) - ~6 inches off the green top
  • Ginger - ~2 inches
  • Star anise - 2-3 stars
  • Dark soy sauce - ~4 tablespoons
  • Sugar - ~2 tablespoons (if you have rock sugar - even better!)
  • Water - A lot of it
  • Salt - to taste
  • Wok
  • Pot (large enough to fit the pork!)
  • Cutting board + knife