Roasted Pork Belly with Red Cook Flavors for Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year is just days away.  This year Chinese New Year lands on Thursday, February 3.  As a little girl growing up in Hong Kong, it was one of my favorite holidays as it is the most celebrated holiday in the Chinese culture.  Every family would gather for a reunion dinner the night before to feast on the many dishes that are made to represent good luck and longevity.   On New Year's day, we would visit families and friends to wish them prosperity and good health for the New Year.  Some would exchange gifts while the children or young unmarried adults receive red envelopes from the elders.  These red envelopes or "lai see" contain cash so we could use our lai see to buy toys and whatever we wish.

Once I moved to the States, my family still gather for a reunion dinner and receive lai see; however we do not follow the 15 days of festivities as we would while we lived in Hong Kong.  Since the celebration is shortened, our family tries as much as possible to get together.  As everyone's commonality is always food I thought I would post a recipe that I love for all to try to make for their New Year's eve reunion dinner.

This recipe is derived from a traditional red-cooking recipe which my family loves to make.  I think there are varieties of ways to make this dish as each family's recipe is different.  My dad is visiting from Hong Kong and I recently asked him how he would make his red-cook pork belly.  At first I thought I would try to make his version, but I thought though I enjoy the red-cook pork belly which is braised in dark soy sauce and rice wine with aromatics for hours until it's fork-tendered.  To me, the best part of the pork belly is the crackling, the crispy skin.  So I decided to roast the pork belly which would get the crispy skin but still use the ingredients of the red-cook to make a sauce. 

Roasted Pork Belly with Red Cook Flavors (Serves 4)
1 1/2 - 2 pounds of pork belly
1/2 tsp of five spice powder
Salt to season
Olive oil to coat the pan

Red Cook Sauce
1/4 cup of dark soy sauce
1/4 cup of Shao Xing rice wine or dry sherry
2 ounces of Chinese rock sugar*
6 slices of ginger
3 scallions - cut into 2 in pieces
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 cinnamon stick crushed
1 star anise pod
1 cup of low sodium chicken stock
1/2 tsp of five spice powder
*You can find this in your local Asian market

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Wash the pork belly in cold water then pat dry.  Score the skin with 1 inch diamond pattern.  Rub the 1/2 tsp of five spice powder and salt into the skin.  In the roasting pan, add oil to coat the pan, then add garlic, scallion and ginger.  Sit the pork belly on top of the aromatics and roast in high heat for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 300 degrees.  Take the pork out, at this point you could see the pork skin is already getting crispy.  Add the wine, soy sauce, rock sugar, cinnamon stick, star anise, five spice powder and the stock into the pan.   Cover with foil and return the pan back to the oven to roast for at least 2 hours.  Take the foil off, increase the heat to 450 degree and roast for another 10 minutes until the skin is crispy.  Take the pork belly out and let it rest while strain the sauce.  Skim the fat off the sauce then reduce until thickens.  Cut the pork belly in pieces with a serrated knife, and serve with sauce.
I love the crispiness of the skin and the tenderness of the meat.  The sauce is flavorful and savory with a hint of sweetness.  You could serve this with your favorite vegetable and rice.  Happy Eating and Happy Chinese New Year or Kung Hai Fat Choi to all!

5 comments:

  1. If you only knew how much pork I have eaten this week, you'd wonder how I could even look lovingly at your post! AND yet I salivate! This looks amazing. I'm not going to make it, but I am going to pray and cross all my fingers and my toes that you bring this to our Chinese New Year Pot Luck!

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  2. Happy Chinese New Year!! Your roasted Pork belly looks amazing. We have been doing a pork belly BLT at the restaurant I've been working at for about 6 months now, it really is a in-creditable piece of pork. Your photos are perfect!!

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  3. Happy Chinese New Year! I've only had pork belly on a few occasions, but your roasted version looks great!! I hope your family enjoys your celebration, even if it doesn't last as long as it did in Hong Kong :) Hope to catch up soon!

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  4. Your pictures make me so hungry! You should be a food stylist or something! You're so good ad it!! Anyway, the recipe sounds DLISH! Gotta try it!

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  5. That looks absolutely divine. I think there must be something about being Chinese and loving pork. I pick pork products about 90% of the time off menus.

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