Hong Shao Rou (Red-Cooked Pork Belly)

See the RecipeTodd Coleman

The technique used in this recipe, called hong shao, or red cooking, is a particular favorite of mine; you'll never taste meat so luscious or sauce with such concentrated flavor. When Deng Haiyan, a cook I know, applies it to rich, fatty pork belly, the results are spectacular. Before she does anything, she parboils the pork belly to jump-start its tenderizing and to render out some of its fat. Then she stir-fries the pork to brown it and simmers it in a braising liquid made with dark soy sauce and sugar until much of the liquid has been reduced and absorbed. Finally, she cranks up the heat again and stir-fries the contents of the wok a second time to further concentrate the sauce. While all of the dishes described here would be served along with a bowl of rice—the centerpiece of any Chinese meal—this pork belly's spicy, sweet, and salty sauce suffuses and complements rice like no other.