International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Hong Shao Rou

Hong Shao Rou Recipe (Chinese red-cooked pork)

(Chinese red-cooked pork)

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Hong shao, or red-cooking, is a popular way to prepare meats in the Shanghai region of eastern China. Simmering in dark soy sauce gives the meat a reddish color and the dish its name. Red-cooked dishes often include a mix of meat and vegetables and are similar to a western stew.

The sauce produced during hong shao cooking is sometimes reserved and used again and again, improving in flavor with each use. Families and restaurants often claim sauces that reach back for generations.

3 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Pork butt, cubed -- 1 1/2 pounds
  • Gingerroot, thinly sliced -- a 1/2-inch piece
  • Whole star anise (optional) -- 2
  • Sugar -- 2 teaspoons
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • Stock or water -- 1 cup
  • Dark soy sauce -- 1/4 cup
  • Rice wine or sherry (optional) -- 1-2 tablespoons

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients to a large pot or wil and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the meat is very tender.
  2. Adjust seasoning and serve with rice.

Hong Shao Rou (Red-Cooked Pork) Variations

  • Add 2 cups of chopped vegetables about 3/4 of the way through the cooking process if you like and continue to simmer until they are cooked through. Possible vegetables: chopped carrots, turnips, daikon, potatoes, onions or scallions.
  • The meat can first be blanched in boiling water or seared until browned if you like.
  • Try red-cooking a whole, bone-in pork butt. Pork belly is a particular favorite for red-cooking. Or substitute cubed beef, a whole chicken, chicken thighs or wings. Turn whole pieces of meat periodically for even cooking and coloring.
  • The meat is sometimes cooled in the sauce then served cold.
  • Use rock sugar instead of granulated sugar if you can find it.
  • Some cooks use a combination of light and dark soy sauce.
  • Substitute 2 teaspoons of 5-spice powder for the star anise if you like.

Notes

  • To store red-cooking sauce for reuse, freeze the sauce, or refrigerate it and use at least once a week to keep it "alive." Add a little extra water or stock each time to bring it back to the volume called for in the recipe.