Dong Po Rou (東坡肉) is a dish where the pork belly was braised in a pot of aromatic wine with sweet black sauce until the fats melt in your mouth and the meat becomes easily fall apart tender. The taste profile of this dish is sweet and salty, with bursting aroma of the yellow wine with every bite.
A bit of history on this dish~ well.. I am not much of a historian but I get to know the history of this dish while I was watching a Hong Kong drama – 東坡家事 and after that a bit of read up on it.
Dong Po Rou is said to be a dish invented by the famous Chinese poet , Su Dong Po (苏東坡) who discovered that braising the pork belly with wine produced the most flavourful braised pork belly ever!
Traditionally, the secret recipe to ensure the most aromatic piece braised of pork belly is to braise with as little water as possible and as low fire as possible – 慢着火，少着水，火候足时味自美.
However, this recipe uses no water at all to ensure that the pork belly is soaked and simmered only in the aroma of the yellow wine (Hua Tiao Wine – 花雕酒).
There are many different range of Hua Tiao, price ranges from $2 bucks to as expensive as $20. It very much depends on how generous you are. I believe the more expensive range will be yield a more aromatic piece of meat.
Personally, I used this bottle of Hua Tiao Wine from NTUC, priced at $3 plus.
I used about 500 to 700 ml of Hua Tiao for about 600g of Pork Belly.
There are 2 methods or more variations to this dish. Some fried the skin of the pork belly before braising, some don’t.
The reason behind frying the skin of the pork belly is to create a different texture of the pork fats when eating ; instead of just the melts in your mouth fats. Frying the skin also bring some chewiness to the skin after braise so you will not have a too greasy feel while eating the dong po rou. This step is optional if you feel like skipping the oil splattering part (cover the pan with lid if you prefer to fry the skin).
Some recipes only called for braising the pork in the liquid. While some recipes required you to add an additional steaming steps before serving. And usually the latter method is adopted by restaurant. Both steps work well and if you want to take an additional step to ensure a even better texture of meat, please do. Just put the braised pork belly in a steamer with some Gravy. Add another 100 ml of Hua tiao wine and steam for another hour. If not, the texture of the pork belly in this recipe already restaurant quality!
Will tying the pork belly with kitchen twine necessary?
Yes! It hold the pork belly together and prevent it from falling apart when braising. Remember? The meat of the pork belly is supposed to be fall apart tender ( u want the fall apart to be when u are biting it not when braising).
You can get the kitchen twine from any supermarket like Ntuc or Red Mart.
During the braising process, you will not need to stir. To prevent the pork belly from sticking to the bottom of the pot, layer the bottom of the pot with spring onions and then top with slices of ginger.
And to ensure that the meats will not be floating around the pot, please use a pot just enough to hold all the pork belly together without much empty space.
Skin face down, drizzle over the sweet black sauce and add enough hua tiao wine to cover 3/4 of the pork belly.
Bring to boil and reduce to the smallest fire possible and simmer for 1.5h. Turn the pork belly, skin faces up and continue to simmer for another 1.5h .
If you opt to add in the steaming, skin down simmer for an hr, skin up another 1 hr, follow by steaming for another hour. Add more wine along the way to allow it to continue to simmer in the wine.
When ready, remove the pork belly, increase the fire and allow the sauce to reduce to a thick sauce and drizzle over the pork belly before serving.
Do remember to remind your guests to remove the kitchen twine before indulging in the yummiest piece of pork belly ever. The string is not edible.
- 500g to 700g Pork Belly
- 2 tablespoons Oil
- 500ml Hua Tiao Wine (Shao Xing Wine)
- 60g Spring Onion (Root removed and washed) - Cut into length of about 3 inches
- 40g Sliced Ginger
- 6g Cinnamon Stick (about 2 small pieces or 1 big fat one)
- 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
- Boil a pot of water over medium high heat
- Add in the pork belly and boil for 5 mins
- Pat dry and set aside
- Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan
- Add in the parboiled pork belly, skin side down and fried the skin for about 5 mins or until brown and blistered
- Remove the pork belly from the pan and allow it to cool down abit before cutting
- *do not discard the oil in the frying pan. reserve for making the black sauce
- Use the frying pan and the remaining fats left from frying, add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and stir fry until the sugar starts to melt a little.
- Add in both light and black soy sauce and allow it to come to low boil and remove from the heat
- Set aside for later use
- Cut the pork belly into cubes of about 1.5" x 1.5" (don't need to be too exact - or any size you prefer).
- Tie it up with a kitchen twine (like tying ribbon on a present)
- Prepare a pot that is just big enough to hold all the pork belly (you do not want to the pork belly to float around when braising; a pot with a base just nice to fit the pork belly will be perfect)
- Layer the base with spring onions, follow by ginger then the pork belly with skin side facing down
- Drizzle over the caramelized black sauce, hua tiao wine (covers ¾ of the pork belly) and cinnamon.
- Bring it to boil over medium heat and then reduce to the lowest heat possible to simmer the meat.
- Simmer the pork belly with skin side down for 1.5 hr, then turn the pork belly with skin side facing up and simmer for another 1.5hr. *Keyword: SIMMER
- When done, remove the pork belly from the pot and place it on the serving plates
- Increase the heat to medium high and reduced the braising liquid to a slightly thicker and glossy consistency. Drizzle the braising liquid over the pork belly and serve hot.
*Refrain from adding water during the simmering process. Add Hua Tiao Wine instead will ensure a aromatic pieces of melt in your mouth Dong Po Rou
*for method with steaming process, Simmer the pork belly with skin side down for 1 hr, then turn the pork belly with skin side facing up and simmer for another 1 hour. Then transfer the pork belly and the sauce to steam for another 1 hour.