Food by VICE

Hunan Red-Cooked Pork Belly Recipe

This iconic Chinese dish is laced with star anise, cinnamon, and ginger, with a perfect balance of salty and sweet.

by Fuschia Dunlop
Mar 7 2018, 12:00am

If you goons are going to be making red cooked pork at home, you better do it the right way and represent.

Servings: 4
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes


1 pound pork belly, lean cut preferred
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
3 scallions, white and green parts, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 dried red chiles
1 (2-inch) piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick
1 (3/4 inch) piece fresh ginger, unpeeled and sliced
1 star anise
Light (regular) soy sauce, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
cooked white rice, for serving


1. Fill a wok with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pork and cook slightly, for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cool. Discard the cooking liquid.

2. When the pork is cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces.

3. Put the sugar and oil into the wok and heat over medium-high. When the sugar melts, increase the heat and stir until the sugar caramelizes and turns golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Lower the heat slightly, add the pork the rice wine. Add water to just cover the pork, about 3 cups. Add 2/3 of the scallions, the chiles, cassia, ginger, and star anise and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, until the pork is tender, about 45 minutes.

5. Uncover and bring to a boil. Reduce the mixture by half, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with the sugar, soy, and salt. Aim for a savory, faintly sweet flavor.

6. To serve, transfer to a bowl and garnish with the remaining scallion. Serve with rice.

The recipe was adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop (W. W. Norton 2007).