This definitely counts as catching up on childhood memories. Hongshaorou is a super common chinese dish that my mom used to make and the smell of it still makes my mouth water. It literally means red braised meat, and if you see the color you will know why. What still sticks to my mind is the pure flavor that enters your mouth when you take a piece of porkbelly or carrot and stain your white rice with the sauce as much as possible. HEAVEN.
Did you know that this was supposedly one of chairman MAO's favorite dishes? If it wasn't famous before this information, fake or not, certainly made it so. It originates from the Hunan province and involves a combination of cinnamon, star anis, sugar, dark and light soy sauce, rice wine and, of course, pork belly. The pork belly is cooked long enough that the fatty parts become gelatinous and melt in your mouth, granted this might not be everyone's favorite.
Most of the ingredients will be familiar to you now, as you only need one trip to your asian store to stock up on all of them.
Time: ~2-3 hrs
350-500g of pork belly
pak choi or bok choi
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
3 Tbsp shaoxing wine / sherry
4 stalks of spring onion
5-7 slices of ginger
2 pieces star anise
1 Tbsp sichuan peppers
1 pod black cardamon
1 stick cinammon
3 Tbsp brown sugar (or 3 pc rock sugar)
chilli if wanted
Blanch the meat (put it into hot water for a couple of minutes until it changes color) , take it out and cut into cubes. Then blanch again and set aside. Toss out the water.
Heat up your pan and fry your Aromatics to get out the flavor. Put them into a cooking satchet to avoid picking out the pieces ar the end.
Heat up some oil and throw in the spring onions and ginger. Fry for a bit and return the meat.
Add the sugar and then put in enough water to cover the meat well (~750mL). Return the Aromatics.
Add the soy sauces and the shaoxing wine. Cover and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
When only 30 min left add the peeled and cubed potatoes. When 15 min left, add the carrots. This will ensure that the veggies retain a nice texture.
Take off the lid and reduce the sauce until it is thick and creamy.
Meanwhile cook your rice and before serving the hongshaorou blanch some pak choi and add it to the bowl.