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Braised Pork Belly (Hangzhou Style)

Braised Pork Belly (Hangzhou Style)

This Braised Pork Belly is Hangzhou’s iconic dish, a melt in your mouth, pork belly dish gloriously sitting in red brown sauce. This dish is also known as braised Dong Po, a recipe created by Su Dong Po. A famous scholar, writer, poet, calligrapher, and court official of the Song Dynasty.

It is cooked over intense caramelization for hours, which makes this dish worth the time and effort. To savour this traditional dish, the bite must include even layers of fat and meat. You have to try it, and you’ll know why this dish became famous throughout the years. 

Servings: 4

Braised Pork Belly (Hangzhou Style)


  • 1 kilogram pork belly, cut into 2″ square and each tied with cooking strings
  • 2-3 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup Shao Xing Jia Fan rice wine (Chinese Cooking Wine)
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1-inch size fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 5 slices
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 5 small dried hot red chilies
  • 1 pound fresh basil or spinach
  • Spring onions, sliced into thin curls for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pork belly for about 3 minutes and skim off any scum that floats on top. Drain pork in a colander. Rinse the pork under cold running water for 1 minute.
  2. In a cast iron pot or preferably flameproof casserole, add the scallions on the bottom. This will serve as your liner for pork. Then add the pork on top, pour in water, rice wine, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, white pepper, star anise, cinnamon stick and dried chillies. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer gently until the pork is very tender for about 2 hours.
  3. In another large saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat a lightly salted water. Just let it simmer once it starts to boil. Just let this stand for cooking your spinach (on the last cooking stage).
  4. Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Cut the meat from the bones, and discard the bones. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the ginger, scallions, star anise, cinnamon stick, and chilies from the sauce. Increase the heat to high and boil the sauce, uncovered, until it becomes syrupy, about 7 minutes
  5. While the sauce is reducing, add the pork, the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar to the sauce, and return it to a boil. Adding the last tablespoon of sugar at the end makes the sauce shinier. Leave it for a moment
  6. Go back to the pot of salted water, then add the basil or spinach into the simmering water and cook just until it is wilted for about 1 minute. Drain using a strainer. Arrange into a serving dish individually or on a large serving plate. 
  7. Carefully transfer the pork using a large spoon, skin side up, to the center of the platter. Remove the string. Spoon the sauce on top. Garnish with spring onion curls.

This recipe is updated: Aug 11, 2022