Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork

Chairman Mao's Red-Braised PorkChairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork is a Chinese dish made out of pork belly glazed in caramelised sugar and slowly simmered until really tender. Originating in Hunan province this was said to be the favourite food of the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong. It was called as the “brain food” during the days and it was believed to have provided Mao with the wisdom and intelligence to defeat his enemies.

Today it’s a really popular dish in the said province even in outlying provinces and lots of restaurants offer this dish in their menu but recent developments restricted and standardize the cooking of this prize recipe in order to oust copycat restaurants that does not follow the stringent instructions. The rules is that if you want to be called “authentic” the restaurant that cooks the true Hong Shao Rou (Red Braised Pork) should only use a special pig type coming from the Ningxiang county, a type of pig that has been bred for nearly a century and considered as an “agricultural treasure”.

A really nice dish which is best paired with a simple steamed rice and simple vegetable greens. The one I made was amazing, the texture and flavour is just perfect but I can’t call it authentic as I used New Zealand Pork instead of that Ningxiang ones.

Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 1 kg pork belly, cubed
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 thumb sized ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 pcs star anise
  • 4 pcs dried red chilies
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • spring onions, to garnish
  1. In a wok add water enough to cover pork. Boil then drop pork pieces and boil for 4 minutes. Discard water used for boiling then remove pork and rinse with cold running water, set aside.
  2. Rinse wok and place it back into the stove top, add oil and sugar, cook in low heat until sugar melts. Once sugar is melted bring heat up and cook until colour turns rich caramel brown colour.
  3. Add the pork and stir fry until pork is all coated with the caramel.
  4. Add the Chinese cooking wine and mix while boiling.
  5. Pour enough water to cover the pork then add the soy sauce, ginger, star anise, dried red chilies and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, cover wok tightly then simmer in low heat for 50 minutes to an hour.
  6. Turn heat to high to reduce the sauce, cook for 10 more minutes or until the sauce is sticky and thick. Season with fish sauce then garnish with spring onions. Turn heat off then serve.


Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork Wide


6 Responses

  1. Mary Frances says:

    Yum!! What a tasty looking dish and fascinating back story.Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kristy says:

    This sounds delicious Raymund – even without the authentic pork I’d say it would be a fantastic dish! I’ve never heard of this one, but have to add it to my list. I know this would be an instant favorite for Mr. N.

  3. Dear Raymund,

    Chairman Mao Chinese restaurant here in Sydney does a good interpretation of this dish though I guess it would also fail the authenticity test. I found it a little too oily.

  4. Wow. Great story and the food looks so fabulous. The pork seems to be tender and tasty. I’ll have this on my list, Raymund. Thanks.

  5. Pork belly glazed in caramelised sugar… Now that sounds seductive. 🙂
    Adding to my ever growing list. Soooo yarm.

  6. Now that I have a pressure cooker, I enjoy cooking pork belly and in half an hour, we have really nice tender meat. I can’t wait to try this!! I just have to stay in the kitchen for step 1 and 6 though. YUM!

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