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Shanghai red-braised pork with eggs

By Fuchsia Dunlop | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-27 07:42

Shanghai red-braised pork with eggs

Red-braised pork, in which chunks of belly pork are simmered with soy sauce, rice wine and sugar, is beloved across China, and there are many regional variations. In Jiangnan (southern part of the Yangtze River), and especially Shanghai, they like theirs dark, sleek and seductively sweet. The pork is only cooked for about an hour in total, so the meat and fat retain a little spring in their step. A secondary ingredient is often added, such as bamboo shoot, deep-fried tofu, cuttlefish, salted fish or, as in this recipe, hard-boiled eggs. The dish is a perfect accompaniment to plain white rice; I do recommend that you serve it also with something light and refreshing, such as stir-fried greens.

At the Dragon Well Manor restaurant in Hangzhou, they call this dish Motherly Love Pork because of an old local story. Once upon a time, they say, there was a woman whose son had traveled to Beijing to sit the imperial civil service examinations. Eagerly awaiting his return, she cooked up his favorite dish, a slow-simmered stew of pork and eggs. But the road was long and the traveling uncertain, so her son didn't arrive when expected, and she took the pot off the stove and went to bed. The next day, she warmed up the stew and waited again for him, but he didn't arrive. By the time her son actually reached home on the third day, the stew had been heated up three times, and the meat was inconceivably tender and unctuous, the sauce dark and profound.

Red-braised pork

6 eggs, small if possible

20g fresh ginger, skin on

1 spring onion, white part only

750g pork belly, skin on

1 tbsp cooking oil

1 star anise

A small piece of cassia bark

3 tbsp Shaoxing wine

700ml stock or hot water

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp plus 1 tsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp caster sugar or 40g rock sugar

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