Braised Pork Belly – Hangzhou Dongpo Pork

Dongpo Rou - Hangzhou Braised Pork Belly Top

Dongpo Pork is a minimalist recipe for braised pork belly that needs only a few Chinese pantry staples — ginger, scallions, soy sauce, and Shaoxing rice wine. Ever ordered anything “drunken” at your local Chinese restaurant? Odds are you’ve had Shaoxing. It is the most widely used rice wine in Chinese cookery so invest in a good quality bottle if you plan to fire up the wok often.

Hangzhou braised pork belly shamelessly celebrates fat as the main ingredient. There is no browning or searing in this version, a step usually called for when braising meats, presumably to prevent the fat and skin from taking on any texture other than gelatinous. As the meat simmers underneath the ebony liquid to produce a rich broth, the fat on top steams into wobbly silkiness that is neither solid nor liquid.

I realize that wasn’t the most appetizing description for something you’re supposed to put in your mouth. This is one of those “try it, you’ll like it” recipes.

It takes at least 4 hours to get the best results when making Dongpo Pork. Throw the ingredients in a pot, run errands, do laundry, work out, and come home to a kitchen redolent of ginger and soy sauce. It’s done when the fat, skin, and meat are easily pierced with blunt chopsticks.

recipe adapted from Eileen Yin-fei Lo’s The Chinese Kitchen

東坡肉 (Dong Po Rou)
Hangzhou Braised Pork Belly

makes 8 servings

3 pounds skin-on pork belly, preferably including the ribs
1/4 pound dark brown sugar (about 1/2 cup firmly packed)
7 cups cold water
1/2 cup Shaoxing wine
1-inch piece of ginger, smashed
6 scallions, trimmed and cut into 3 to 4-inch segments
2/3 cup dark soy sauce



  • It’s perfectly fine to braise the pork belly in one piece but where’s the fun in that? Tying up the small pieces keeps the pork belly from falling apart while braising.
  • Seek out the more refined Shaoxing wine marked “Hua Tiao Chiew” or “Hua Diao Jiu.” it will have an alcohol content of 16 to 20 percent. Avoid bottles labeled “Shaoxing wine for cooking” — it is low quality, laced with salt, and jarring to the palate.


Politely ask your butcher to cut the pork belly into 2 1/2-inch squares, especially if it still has the ribs intact. Tell your butcher to go easy on the nipple.

Tie each piece of pork belly as tightly as possible with your binding implement of choice. The pork belly will shrink considerably while cooking as its fat is rendered.

In a pan wide enough to hold the pork belly pieces in one layer, mix the dark brown sugar, cold water, Shaoxing wine, smashed ginger, scallions, and soy sauce. Add the pork belly, skin side down, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover the pan, and braise for 30 minutes.

Dongpo Rou - Hangzhou Braised Pork Belly Tied
Porky parcels.

Turn the pork belly pieces so that the skin side is up, cover, and braise for another 3 hours. The pork should be immersed about halfway. The liquid will be reduced by about half towards the end of cooking.

To Serve:

Serve with plain rice or steamed buns. Since the banana leaves don’t count, do yourself a favor and serve the pork belly with simply-cooked vegetables. It’s always a good idea to have some greens on the table, but in this case, it’s mandatory.

Dongpo Rou - Hangzhou Braised Pork Belly Split
X marks the spot.

  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Live
  • Twitter
  • email

Similar Posts

Pork Belly Recipe – Braised in Soy and Dashi Feed a Crowd: Red Cooked Pork Shoulder Chinese White Cut Chicken Afelia – Pork Braised with Red Wine and Coriander Seeds Baby-Back Pork Ribs Adobo Crackling Pork Belly Roast

25 Responses to “Braised Pork Belly – Hangzhou Dongpo Pork”

  1. Vicki says:

    “wobbly silkiness”…I love it. Those little porky packages look so delicious :-)

  2. van says:

    WOW! This is so attractive dish. They look very tasty!

  3. Audax Artifex says:

    Really like how you did the pork packages looks so cooool!!!! This is the sort of recipe I love a long wait where I can do something else. Yours Audax thanks for the comments on the blog.

  4. Barbara says:

    What a beautiful presentation!

  5. Madam Chow says:

    Yet another dish my husband would love! And I had to laugh at the “work out” suggestion – I work out like a fiend just to maintain my weight, what with all my baking!

  6. kat says:

    those certainly are beautiful!

  7. Adam says:

    X marks the spot indeed :) They are like little parcels of Chinese goodness. I really like rice wine, this would be perfect with some bok choy! Oh man, now I’m hungry.

    And thanks for the shout out… I always notice little things like that :)

  8. Tom Aarons says:

    Love the way you’ve tied these with banana leaf strips. It looks great!

  9. Mike says:

    That is beautiful. Now I really need to get my hands on some pork belly. Excellent work!

  10. MyLastBite says:

    Simply Stunning!

  11. Nicisme says:

    I know I’d like this if I tried it, I’d just like someone to come over and cook it for me…
    Great photos!

  12. Natashya says:

    So pretty, like little floating presents.
    It sounds wonderful, I have actually never had pork belly.
    I live in a small town so if I ask the butcher to go easy on the nipple people might start to talk….

  13. caroline says:

    These are so cute, like little presents. Looks really yummy.
    Did the banana leaves impart any flavor to the pork? Just wondering.

  14. Audax Artifex says:

    Congrats on getting into Tastespotting noticed your picture on the site.

  15. noobcook says:

    omg they look so AMAZING wrapped in the scallions … this dish is pretty hard to photography coz the colours are so dark… but you did an awesome job bringing out its best!

  16. Steamy Kitchen says:

    wow! perfect photos – wish i could taste!

  17. Heather says:

    I just made a gurgling sound in my throat. Gorgeous. Nice touch with the banana leaves, too. Even though I can’t taste the sweet, fatty pork, I’m totally jonesing for rice and gai lan now.

  18. Thanks guys! I was going to tie up the pork belly with a pretty bow on top but that’s probably overkill.

    Caroline – I tried browning a piece under the broiler and the banana leaf did add a nice smokiness. Cooked as in the recipe, there’s no noticeable banana leaf flavor, though.

    Noobcook – It was a bit difficult. Yay for Lightroom :)

  19. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    I tell myself that all that fat is not *that* “healthy” and that I don’t want to eat pork belly fat. But then, everytime I get some in my mouth, I just can’t stop myself, because pork fat braised like this is just transcendent.

    I love the presentation of this dish with the banana leaves. I wonder if you can bamboo leaves too?

  20. Al says:

    I tried the corner Chinese Restaurant last night and it was absolutely divine. The gelatinous fat on top and the soft meat combo, eaten with plain white rice brings back happy childhood memories. I’m a fan now!

  21. Momo4ever.Com » Slow and Steady says:

    [...] I cooked a really classic Chinese Dish called Dong Po Rou, which is a type of braised pork belly dish. Just after a few hours, the whole house was filled [...]

  22. east is east « noah.potk.ın says:

    [...] of bacon before being smoked and/or cured. All around Asia, pork bellies are usually braised in a flavorful broth for several hours until much of the fat is extracted and the meat is tender. I used a mixture of [...]

  23. Braised Pork Belly « Absolute Gluttony says:

    [...] 11, 2008 · Leave a Comment From Apple Pie, Patis, Pate東坡肉 (Dong Po [...]

  24. Kathy - My Online Meals says:

    I really enjoy your wonderful cooking. The food is so very different and I find them all very interesting. I would love to try this one especially.

  25. Three Weekend Trips From Shanghai – Episode 227 | The Amateur Traveler Travel Podcast - best places to travel says:

    [...] Mingtown Suzhou International Youth HostelHangzhou Tea Museum A History of Chinese in California Braised Pork Belly – Hangzhou Dongpo Pork Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe Wushanyi International Youth HostelShanghai Captain Youth [...]

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Crackling Pork Belly Roast Pompe à l’Huile – Sweet Olive Oil Bread Pinipig Cookies Thai Wild Mushroom Salad Vollkornbrot – German Whole Rye Sourdough Oxtail Adobo