Red-Braised Pork (Hong Shao Rou)

Red-Braised Pork (Hong Shao Rou)

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1-1 1/4 lb fresh, boneless pork belly, preferably with skin
2-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled
2 scallions, white and green parts
3 tbsp peanut oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine or medium-dry sherry
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 of a star anise


Blanch the pork for a couple minutes in boiling water, then remove and rinse in cold water.  This step can be omitted if you are in a hurry.  Cut pork into 2 to 3-inch chunks, leaving each piece with a layer of skin and a mixture of lean meat and fat.  Crush the ginger slightly with the flat side of a cleaver or a heavy object, and cut the scallions into 3 or 4-inch sections.

Heat the oil in the pot until just beginning to smoke.  Add the pork chunks and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.  Then add the stock and all the other ingredients and stir well.

Bring the liquid to a boil, then simmer, half-covered, over a very low flame for about 1 hour, stirring from time to time (Alex stirred roughly every 30 minutes for the first hour).  Remove lid, stir and continue simmering over a very low flame for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Increase heat slightly and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring more regularly, until the liquid is much reduced and the meat is fork tender.  Total cooking time is roughly 2 hours.  During the last 5 minutes of cooking, you should stir the pork regularly to ensure that the pieces are evenly lacquered. 

Remove from heat.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork belly from the rendered fat.  Serve with white rice and smacked cucumbers.