Shanghainese Sticky Red-Cooked Pork Belly Recipe

Sweet and savory cubes of meltingly tender meat in an aromatic sauce.

Tender slabs of slow-cooked pork belly are served in a sticky caramel sauce. . Fiona Reilly

Why This Recipe Works

  • Boiling the pork first helps set the pieces, which keeps them from falling apart during later cooking.
  • A caramel is used to coat the meat before more savory ingredients, like wine and soy sauce, are added for nuanced, layered flavors.

Pork is included in almost every Chinese celebration, in which it symbolizes abundance and wealth. This glossy, aromatic pork belly is "red-cooked," or coated in a sticky soy-based reduction typical of Shanghainese cuisine. The result is sweet and savory cubes of meltingly tender meat in a rich and aromatic sauce. This dish is part of our seven-course Mid-Autumn Festival feast.

September 2015

Recipe Details

Shanghainese Sticky Red-Cooked Pork Belly Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 3 hrs
Serves 4 servings

Sweet and savory cubes of meltingly tender meat in an aromatic sauce.


  • 1 1/2 pounds pork belly, skin on, in a single piece

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1/2-inch knob ginger, peeled and finely sliced (about 2 teaspoons)

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced (about 1 teaspoon)

  • 2 scallions, white part only, finely sliced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 2 star anise pods

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine

  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce

  • Steamed rice for serving


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add pork belly and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool slightly. Slice belly into 1-inch cubes.

  2. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat until the oil starts to shimmer, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and stir until mixture begins to caramelize, about 1 minute.

  3. Increase heat to high. Add ginger, garlic, and scallions, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add star anise and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add pork cubes, stirring until the meat is well-coated in caramel. Add soy sauce and Shaoxing wine and stir to combine.

  4. Add enough water to cover the pork and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened and is dark brown and glossy. If liquid begins to dry out, add enough water to cover the meat and continue simmering. If sauce appears thin and diluted, remove pork after 2 hours and reduce sauce to desired consistency before returning pork to wok to gently reheat.

  5. Serve pork with sauce, accompanied by steamed rice.

Special Equipment

Carbon steel wok

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
534 Calories
34g Fat
19g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 534
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 44%
Saturated Fat 11g 53%
Cholesterol 107mg 36%
Sodium 1212mg 53%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 82mg 6%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 430mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)