Mao shi hong shao rou – The “red-braised” in this dish refers to the cooking style that braises caramelized pork belly in soy sauce, cassia bark (cinnamon), ginger, and star anise, creating a red hue to the meat. It is said to be the favorite dish of China’s Mao Zedong who was raised in the city of Shaoshan in the Hunan Province. He allegedly loved it so much that he brought Hunan chefs with him to Beijing so he could eat it almost every day. He allegedly was further appetized by the belief that the dish was a health food that men ate to build their intellect, and women to make themselves more beautiful. Red-braised pork is loved just as much in Sichuan and made the same way.
Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork
- 1 lb Pork belly
- 2 tbsp Peanut oil
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1 inch Ginger root, unpeeled and sliced into disks
- 1 Star anise
- 2 medium Red chiles, dried
- 1 small Piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp Soy sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 stalk Scallions, cut into ½-inch pieces
- Prep – Boil pork belly slab for 3-4 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 1½-inch cubes. Trim and slice scallion.
- Cook – Heat peanut oil and sugar in wok over medium heat. When sugar is melted, turn heat to high and stir until the sugar turns a rich caramelized brown. Stir in pork cubes and the the Shaoxing wine.Cover pork with water and add ginger slices, chili peppers, star anise, and cassia bark. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium to simmer for 40-50 minutes, uncovered.Before the end of cooking, turn heat to high to reduce the sauce. Season with soy sauce, salt and a pinch of sugar. Dish can be served at this point with scallions mixed in.
- Serve – Mix in scallions and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with white rice and lots of revolutionary conversation.
- Dish may be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen. It can be defrosted and warmed in a microwave.