Red-braised pork

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

 
Canada's major newspaper, The Globe and Mail, published a list of the 20 best cookbooks of 2013 and happily, Fuchsia Dunlop's "Every Grain of Rice" was on the list. I've shared a number of her recipes with readers over the years because I'm such a big fan of hers. It never ceases to amaze me that you can look at two of her recipes that have pretty much the same ingredients, but when you cook them, they taste totally different from one another.
 
All of Dunlop's cookbooks are terrific, but "Every Grain of Rice" is full of home-style Chinese recipes that are simple to make, with inexpensive ingredients. Everything I've made from it has been a success. I've made this pork recipe a couple of times, and my husband loves it. It's a bit unusual for a Chinese dish in that it cooks for a long time. Most traditional Chinese cooking was developed by chopping food finely and cooking it quickly to conserve scarce cooking fuel.
 
This is a great dish to cook on a cold weekend afternoon. It involves very little prep time so you can go and do something else, and then it will make your home smell fantastic. I made the whole recipe, but there were just two of us, so we had some leftovers. I ended up making some congee for breakfast, and we put this on top. You could stretch this to six people if you were serving a Chinese-style banquet. If you want to reduce the fat, cook it the day before you plan to eat it, refrigerate it and then skim any of the fat off before reheating it. If you can't find Shaoxing wine you can substitute dry sherry. I served this over noodles because there was a lot of broth, but it would be fantastic over rice as well.

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Total time: 2-3 hours 

Yield: 4-6 servings

 
Red-Braised Pork

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 boneless pork belly, with skin
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 4 slices of unpeeled ginger
  • 1 spring onion, white part only, crushed slightly
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock or water, plus more if needed
  • 1 star anise
  • Small piece of cinnamon stick
  • Dash of dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • A few lengths of spring onion greens, to garnish
Cooking directions
  1. Cut the pork into 1-inch chunks.
  2. Pour the oil into a seasoned wok over a high flame, followed by the ginger and spring onion and stir-fry until you can smell their aromas. Add the pork and stir-fry for a couple of minutes more. Splash in the Shaoxing wine. Add the stock, spices, soy sauce, sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well, then transfer to a clay pot or a saucepan with a lid.
  3. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer over a very low flame for at least 1 1/2 hours, preferably 2 or 3. Keep an eye on the pot to make sure it does not boil dry; add a litle more stock or hot water if necessary. Adjust the seasoning and add the spring onion greens just before serving.

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