Growing up, I ate a lot of hong shao rou (braised meat)- mostly pork and sometimes beef. Sometimes my mom would make braised pork spare ribs (you can easily replace the pork shoulder with short spare ribs), and those were even better. This is a dish I learned by watching her make it so many times, so I definitely do it by feel. I love this dish because it’s forgiving and rather simple; it just requires some time to wait for the meat to get nice and tender. Please, do yourself a favor and do not use lean meat with this.
Also, the best part is the sauce, so make sure you add some of the sauce on the rice when you eat it!
I like serving this with brown rice and sauteed green veggies. Every time I make it, I might do something different..this recipe is pretty flexible and forgiving!
2 servings + leftovers
-1 tsp canola oil (or any neutral oil)
-1 lb pork butt, belly, or fattier pork meat (some sort of bone-in pork would be great, too! In that case, use more; about 1.25-1.5 lbs)
-1/2 Tbsp to 1 Tbsp sugar, or more to taste
-2 Tbsp Shaoxing (preferable) or rice wine
-3 thin slices of ginger
-1-2 star anise
-3 Tbsp soy sauce
-5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
Other hearty veggie add-ins (pick one): peeled and chopped to a similar size as the pork
-Winter Bamboo (冬筍)- 1 bamboo
-Potatoes and carrots- 1 1/2 cups
2a) When the heat is hot / shimmering , cook the meat until it is gray or no longer pink/red anywhere. It doesn’t have to be browned. The point of this step is to semi-cook the meat and not end up with cooked bloody shards in the sauce (ew =( )
2b) The slightly healthier alternative: Bring water to a boil, and gently simmer the meat until it is no longer pink/red on the outside. Rinse the meat until the water runs clearish with few impurities (you can fish these out with a strainer).
3) Transfer the meat to a bowl.
4a) If you used the pseudo-browning method, just add some sugar (start with 1/2 Tbsp to start) in the residual oil until the sugar starts to brown.
4b) If you used the healthier method, add the oil now, then the sugar. Stir the sugar over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Immediately add the meat and accumulated juices back into the pan, stirring well.
5) Stir in the wine, ginger, star anise, soy sauce, mushrooms, and enough water to cover everything 3/4 way. Taste the sauce, and add soy sauce or sugar for more savory/sweetness. I like it mainly savory with a hint of sweetness at the end.
6) Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour or hour and half, until the meat is tender and almost falling apart. If you want to add veggies, winter bamboo is hearty enough to add in at the same time as the wine. If using potatoes and carrots, add them when the meat is 3/4 done (after about 40-45 minutes).
7) This dish is easily made in advance and reheated before serving. Feel free to scrape off the fat that rises to the top of the sauce when it cools, if you want to watch your calories!
-I don’t remember my mom and grandma making this dish with shiitake mushrooms, but I like to add them in sometimes. Feel free to omit them if you like, or replace with whole button or cremini mushrooms for something a bit different.
-This dish is best served with a simply sauteed vegetable or salted mustard greens, and lots of rice.
-If you have extra sauce or tiny bits of leftovers, it’s great with thin noodles for a savory breakfast.