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Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork (Mao Shi Hong Shao Rou)

From the book Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by

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Red-braised pork is a dish that in Hunan is inseparably bound up with the memory of Chairman Mao: many restaurants call it “The Mao Family’s red-braised pork.” Mao Zedong loved it, and insisted his Hunanese chefs cook it for him in Beijing. It’s a robust concoction, best eaten with plain steamed rice and simple stir-fried vegetables; the sweet, aromatic chunks of meat are irresistible.


1 lb. pork belly (skin optional)
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine
~ Fresh ginger (a ¾-inch piece), skin left on and sliced
1 star anise
2 dried red chiles
~ A small piece of cassia bark or a small cinnamon stick
~ Light soy sauce
~ Salt
~ Sugar
~ Scallion greens


  1. Plunge the pork belly into a pan of boiling water and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until partially cooked. Remove and, when cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Heat the oil and white sugar in a wok over a gentle flame until the sugar melts, then raise the heat and stir until the melted sugar turns a rich caramel brown. Add the pork and splash in the Shaoxing wine.
  3. Add enough water to just cover the pork, along with the ginger, star anise, chiles, and cassia. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes.
  4. Toward the end of the cooking time, turn up the heat to reduce the sauce, and season with soy sauce, salt, and a little sugar to taste. Add the scallion greens just before serving.


In Shaoshan, Mao’s home village, cooks traditionally leave the skin intact for maximum succulence, and cut the meat into rather large chunks, perhaps 1 1/2 inches long; I tend to make the pieces a little smaller. This recipe takes its color from caramelized sugar, which gives it a lovely reddish gloss, but many people just use dark soy sauce at home.

This content is from the book Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop.

There are 2 comments on this item
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Average Rating 5
100% recommend this recipe
1. by anonymous on Sep 15, 2012 at 8:32 PM PDT
Rating: five

This is the best recipe ever. I don’t use pork belly, but the pork ribs instead, and I simmer for at least 90 min, but usually closer to 2 hrs to get that fall off the bone tenderness. Thank you.

2. by anonymous on Mar 31, 2014 at 9:05 AM PDT

Husband’s favorite! We use port belly with skin on. With pre-boiling of pork, it takes 45 minutes of simmering to reduce the sauce and achieve the necessary tenderness (but we make pieces really bite-size). Ideal with white rice.

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