Dong Po Rou 东坡肉 – Twice-cooked Pork Belly

13 Sep

Everytime I meet a deadline for my thesis, I would be told to go straight to bed. Get some rest. Repay my ‘perpetual sleep debt’ (as coined by my dear friend with the Seemingly-Small Mouth). However, the first thing I think about after each deadline, as exhausted I may be, would be food. To either pore through a magazine or raid my cookbooks, so I can cook, or bake, or BOTH. Cooking sometimes is a luxury for me now, simply because I enjoy it so much and could spend so much time on it, so much so that none of my uni work ever gets done. So usually by the time I click the ‘Send’ button on the new email window, I would already be browsing through foodblogs, looking for inspiration for the next meal.

Dong Po Rou (东坡肉)

It was during one of my thesis-writing breaks when I revisited AlmostBourdain‘s blog – one of my favourites with great recipes that always look delectable! – and found this recipe for Dong Po Rou (东坡肉). Just a glance at that picture and I was sold. I have a great weakness for pork belly, and it shows, too. -looks down at waistline- Sigh. But hey, I’m of Chinese ethnicity, we love our pork! Most of us, anyway. This is a dish I am fairly familiar with by name, but not by how it is made, because while I knew I ate it a fair few times in Chinese restaurants, I never quite put name to dish when I was younger. Youthful ignorance, sad but true. The recipe looked rather straight-forward, something I could leave on the stove for a couple of hours and get some work done in between too.

I wasn’t quite sure what the end result should have tasted like because the Mother never made it at home, so I made adjustments along the way, with the Sister taste-testing. Didn’t manage to get a proper picture in the end because everyone was starving and had started eating by the time I wanted to plate it. For more pictures that do justice to how amazing this dish was, have a look at AlmostBourdain’s post.

I would so make this dish again. Omnomnom..

Recipe from AlmostBourdain

1 kg pork belly, skin on (I used approx 1.4 kg, and adjusted the rest of the ingredients accordingly)
100 g spring onions, cut into half
50 g ginger, sliced
500 ml Shao Tsing wine
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
80 g rock sugar

2 cinnamon sticks (I threw it in just for a bit of fragrance, not entirely sure if it made a huge difference)

1. Cut the pork belly into 2 equal sizes that will fit your pot in one layer.

2. Parboil the pork belly in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes to remove the impurities. Drain and set aside.

3. Line the base of the pot with the spring onions and ginger. Lay the parboiled pork belly pieces skin-side down on top of the spring onions. Mix the the wine and sauces, adding it to the pot with the rock sugar. Top up the liquid with water until meat is 2/3 submerged.

4. Bring masterstock to a boil, then reducing to a simmer for 2 hours, lid on. Turn the pork to skin-side up halfway through cooking.

5. Remove pork belly from masterstock. Strain and reserve the masterstock for the sauce, leaving it to cool.

6. Steam the pork for 30 minutes on high heat.

7. *Optional* Skim the oil off the top of the masterstock (the pork belly releases a lot of oil and fat while cooking). Bring masterstock to boil again, and add some minced garlic to taste, to add some depth. You can also choose to thicken the sauce slightly by adding some cornstarch (made into a slurry with some water), bit by bit. Let the starch cook out each time over heat, till desired consistency and glossy. Do not over-thicken the sauce or it will taste too starchy and leave an unpleasant texture in the mouth.

8. Pour sauce over pork and serve immediately. (But do take a nice photo first!)


15 Responses to “Dong Po Rou 东坡肉 – Twice-cooked Pork Belly”

  1. Ellie September 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    Looks delish! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the shout out 🙂

  2. angie September 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Mmmm succulent pork belly… mmmm =)

  3. FFichiban September 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    OOhh that looks sooo tender!!! *Drooollllll*

  4. foodwink September 22, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Yum – that glistening and silky pork belly skin looks soooo good!

    p/s: good luck with uni, and definitely get more sleep whenever you can 🙂

  5. Toni Tones September 22, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    O.M.G. That looks delicious. I just want to sink my teeth into that chunk of pork. Nom nom nom.

  6. thatssoron September 26, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    nothing like pork belly! aarrhhh

  7. Helena October 14, 2010 at 4:43 am #

    Is this very fat? I mean with all these skin and fat underneath. I’m thinking about cooking this (well if I get pork belly from local butcher), but do you eat skin and fat? Can I replace Shao Tsing wine with some other kind of wine (Porto maybe:))?

    • Sook October 14, 2010 at 4:54 am #

      Hi Helena

      The cut of meat is indeed very fatty, but this also means the fat imparts great flavour into the meat as it cooks down. But most people skim off the fat after cooking and just eat the lean meat. I admit to trying just a little of the meat with some fat, because that’s where all the flavour is, but for health reasons, no, it’s best to not eat it!
      Shao tsing wine is a Chinese cooking wine made by fermenting rice, hence it has a distinct flavour, and this dish is all about the Shao Tsing-flavoured pork, so I do not think other wines would replace it quite the same.

      • Helena October 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

        Thanks for answering my questions.
        I had to look at photos of raw pork belly to realize that in Poland we eat this like a bacon (and I eat all the fat :)).

  8. Lesbump May 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Can I understand why is there a need to steam the pork for 30 mins again after 2 hours of “stewing”?

    Will this step matters alot?

    • Sook June 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

      I don’t think it will make too much of a difference, i think it’s just a way to ensure it stays moist while making sure it cooks through without the meat falling apart from the intense boiling.

  9. Lesbump May 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    can i understand why do we need to steam the pork for another 30 mins after cooking it for 2 hours?

    Does this step matters alot? can skip?

  10. wei January 14, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Does the dish keeps well? I am thinking if cooking the dish a day or 2 earlier and steam it hot before serving.

    • rambling glutton January 15, 2014 at 1:50 am #

      There should be no problems with keeping it for a couple of days, just make sure the dish cools before placing in fridge, you can considering keeping the meat and sauc separately, just steam it with the sauce when you’re ready to serve.


  1. TRAVEL: Hangzhou, Zhejiang « Vesperis - August 1, 2011

    […] The original recipe for the pork is found here. For a commentary by one who has tried it, see this post. Beggar's Chicken. Courtesy of […]

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