Mao's Red Braised Belly Pork

Mao’s Red Braised Belly Pork (红烧肉)

This dish bears the name of Chairman Mao as it was his favourite.  I first came across Mao’s Red Braised Belly Pork (红烧肉) when dining at the local Hunan restaurant and since then, it has become one of my favourite belly pork dishes. We find the sweet yet spicy and savoury chunks of pork belly quite irresistible. The tender, juicy braised skin is the best part.  Mao’s red-braised belly pork gets the reddish gloss from the caramelised sugar.



  • 500 gm pork belly (I like to include the skin) – cut into thick strips
  • 3 fried tofu or tofu puff (cut into chunks)
  • 2 Tbsp rice bran oil
  • 2 Tbsp rock sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp ginger paste or ¾ inch piece fresh ginger, skin left on and sliced
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 dried red chilli (de-seeded) – increase to 2 if you like it hotter
  • light soy sauce, salt, and sugar (to taste)


1. Put the strips of pork belly into a pan of boiling water and simmer for about 5 minutes until partially cooked. Remove and, when cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized chunks and dry it thoroughly with a paper towel.

2. Heat the oil and rock sugar in a deep pot over a gentle flame until the sugar melts. Then raise the heat and stir until the melted sugar turns a rich caramel brown.  Add the pork chunks carefully into the pot. CARE! Pork will start to crackle & pop so cover the pot immediately to avoid spattering oil.

3. Without removing the cover, shake the pot from time to time to ensure that the pork chunks are fully coated with the caramel.  When the popping sound stops, remove the cover and stir the pork chunks to ensure they are evenly coated.

4. Splash in 1 Tbsp of Shaoxing wine; cover again and let the pork cook for another couple of minutes.

5. Add ginger, star anise, cinnamon and chilli and enough water to just cover the pork. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

6. Add the tofu and continue to simmer for another 15 mins or so. Toward the end of the cooking time, turn up the heat to reduce the sauce. Taste the sauce and add salt, light soya sauce and sugar to your taste. The sauce should be fairly thick. If it isn’t, add 1 Tbsp cornflour mixed in a little water to thicken the sauce.


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