For the longest time I had difficulty getting the caramel in this recipe down. Some bloggers / cookbooks suggest using rock sugar and after a few years, I have decided that rock sugar actually is a lot easier to make the caramel with than other sugars. My mom uses brown sugar and doesn’t bother to make a caramel at all. Buro finally nailed the caramel creation–adding the oil is critical for keeping the sugar from going straight from caramel to rock solid.
If you mess up making the caramel, just start over. You’re at the beginning and sugar is cheaper than pork.
For each one-pound of meat, such as pork belly, hock, or ribs:
Blanch pork into boiling water for a few minutes. You can start from cold water. When blanched, pour over cold water and scrub each meat piece to remove any dangling scum bits.
- With a wok on a medium(-ish) flame, stir 4 tbsp sugar in 2 tbsp of canola oil until sugar melts into a caramel liquid.
- Add to caramel:
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 4 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 star anise, 2 dried red chilis, 3/4-inch ginger, small piece cassia bark
- Add meat and add water/stock to almost cover every piece of meat.
- Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer until meat is cooked tender
- Reduce the sauce (remove meat and then reduce the sauce, and then put the meat back)
Instant Pot variation
- Blanch the pork and make the caramel as above. Then add caramel, pork, and all other ingredients to instant pot. Add water to just almost cover every piece. Pressure cook for 20 minutes, let release naturally. Remove meat and reduce the sauce (and put meat back in at the end)
Clay Pot variation
- Blanch the pork as above. Prepare clay pot however you usually do (we usually soak it for ~1 hour - overnight). Skip making the caramel, chop rock sugar into smaller chunks and place on top of blanched pork with the rest of the ingredients. Gently simmer until pork is soft.