Hongshao rou – This is a Chinese inspired recipe. When I was visiting Shanghai, I had the chance to try this dish at Waipojia restaurant. It changed my life. So here is my version of Hongshao rou – which is quite different from the restaurant’s version, but definitely delicious! By the way, this dish goes very well with a simple stir-fry of bok choi and a bowl of rice.
Note that if you have never eaten this dish in a good Chinese restaurant, the textures might surprise you. Try the same recipe with pork tenderloin, the result may be easier for less experienced palates!
Place all ingredients and equipment on your work surface.
Cut your pork belly into 2 cm by 2 cm cubes.
Sprinkle the five-spice over the pork and mix well to cover each side.
Chop the green onions. Place the white in a bowl of cold water and the green in a second bowl of cold water.
Chop the ginger and garlic as finely as possible, together, and set aside.
Heat the wok (or cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes to ensure it is super hot… but not too hot!
Once the wok is hot, add the oil – just enough to cover the bottom.
Put the pork cubes in the wok.
Let the cubes stir-fry for about 15 seconds, then turn them over and repeat until each side is golden brown.
If your cubes don’t brown or your pan isn’t hot enough, don’t leave them in the pan! You don’t want all the fat in the pork belly to melt, so even if they don’t brown, remove the cubes from the pan after no more than 90 seconds.
Remove the wok from the heat and freeze the pork cubes for ten minutes.
Return the wok to the heat over medium heat.
Stir in the garlic and ginger for one minute. Then turn off the heat.
Next, heat the non-stick pan over medium heat and spread the sugar evenly in the bottom of the pan.
Don’t touch anything and watch your sugar turn into caramel.
Don’t touch it with a spatula or a spoon! If you disturb a caramel, it will turn into candy. Sweets are good, but not with pigs!
Once the sugar has turned to caramel (be careful not to burn it!) turn down the heat to medium-low and put in the pork cubes, straight from the freezer.
Remove the pan from the heat to lower the temperature inside.
Once the temperature is reduced, stir the pan to cover the pork with caramel, then add the rice wine, vinegar, juice of one lime, both soy sauces, sesame oil, monosodium glutamate, cooked garlic and ginger, and the white part of the green onions, and stir.
Then add the hot water, stir so that the caramel dissolves in the water,
Put back on the heat and wait for the mixture to boil.
As soon as you see some bubbles, turn off the heat completely, and cover the pan. Leave it covered, on the stove, for an hour. The goal here is to keep the temperature at a point where the pork cooks, but doesn’t let all its juices escape.
When the hour is up, uncover, remove the pork cubes, pour in the sesame oil, then turn the heat back on to reduce the sauce to the desired consistency; stir your sauce well to get an even consistency.
Taste and adjust seasoning with lime juice, soy sauce or sugar.
Place the pork in a dish, pour the sauce over it, then put in the sesame seeds and green onions.
The three layers of pork belly – meat, fat and skin – should each have their own texture and create a fatty, sweet symphony in the mouth!
There are much more complex versions of this dish – including brines and sous-vide cooking, among others. This is a simple and easy version to make at home. Xiǎngshòu nǐ de wǔcān!
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