Chairman Mao’s Pork Belly


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

My Asian Kitchen

My Asian Kitchen

By Jennifer Joyce

Published 2018

  • About

This Hunan specialty, which was one of Mao’s favourite dishes, is a bit like pork candy. The meat is braised in a sugary rice wine and soy liquid and slowly softens until it is meltingly tender and coated in a sticky sweet-and-sour sauce. Chinese rock sugar makes this dish very authentic and you can easily buy it online, but feel free to use normal caster sugar instead.

Prep 20 minutes
Cook 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 900 g (2 lb) rindless pork belly
  • 2 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cm ( inch) ginger, julienned
  • 6 spring onions (scallions)
  • 60 g ( oz) rock sugar or 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 60 ml 2 fl oz) dark soy sauce
  • 30 ml 1 fl oz) light soy sauce
  • 90 ml 3 fl oz) Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp black or rice vinegar
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 whole dried chillies
  • steamed rice, to serve


Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the pork and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Chop the meat into 3 cm ( inch) pieces and toss with the five-spice.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add the pork in batches and brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and add the ginger and the chopped white part of the spring onions. Sauté for 3–4 minutes until soft and then add the finely crushed rock sugar. Stir constantly until melted.

Add the pork back in and stir for 1–2 minutes. Add the soy sauces, rice wine, vinegar, star anise, dried chilli and 500 ml (17 fl oz) water. Place a lid on top and turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Let cook for 30 minutes and then remove the lid. Continue cooking for 30 minutes more, stirring periodically, or until the meat is tender and sticky.

Remove the spices and discard. Serve the pork sprinkled with the chopped green spring onions and bowls of rice alongside.