Being from Shanghai, red-braised pork belly (hong shao rou) was always something we ordered at a restaurant, especially if it was a celebration. Many regions have their own braised pork belly specialities, such as this Taiwanese braised pork rice bowl.
I always shied away from making this dish because I assumed something so rich and delicious would take hours to make. This is called red-braised pork belly for a reason-- the dish always came out in a clay pot glistening and a dark red from the soy sauces. When I finally learned the recipe, I realized there were only a couple of key ingredients. These ingredients are even more important when you're cooking this recipe in an Instant Pot.
Use a pressure cooker for quick weekday dinners
Typically, any braised pork belly recipe will require at 20 minutes of prep time and a little over an hour of simmering. Some might think it's impossible to recreate such a classical dish in an Instant Pot, well, this recipe proves them wrong.
With a pressure cooker, we're going to halve the time. We'll be doing some initial sautéing in the Instant Pot to create a delicious caramelization. Then, we'll add the liquids to provide the deep, rich flavor.
Ingredients for braised pork belly
- Pork belly
- Brown sugar
- Vegetable oil
- Shaoxing wine ( you can sub with dry sherry)
- Light and dark soy sauce
- Star anise
- Bay leaves
- Optional: Eggs and tofu
If you don't have star anise and bay leaves, you can sub with five spice powder.
Top tips for fragrant Shanghai-style pork belly
- It's important to blanch your pork belly in boiling water first. This helps to reduce the fat content and tenderizes the meat.
- Allow the sugar and oil to caramelize to create a thick sauce for the meat
- Add eggs and dry bean curd for extra bite before you start cooking in the pressure cooker.
Looking for more easy Asian Instant Pot recipes?
Instant Pot Braised Pork Belly, Shanghai-Style
- Pressure cooker
- 1 lb pork belly with skin on
- 2 slices ginger
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 3 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 cloves star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup water
- Slice your pork belly into 1x1 inch squares
- Blanch in boiling water with ginger for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse.
- Set Instant Pot to Sauté. Caramelize brown sugar with vegetable oil until it starts to bubble.
- Add the pork until it is completely coated. Scrap at the sugar/oil mixture if it begins to stick to the bottom.
- Add Shaoxing wine, light and dark soy sauce. Stir for 1 minute.
- Add water and spices (star anise and bay leaves). If you want to add tofu or boiled and peeled eggs, add now.
- Cook on High Pressure for 15 minutes
- Allow pressure to natural release and let it sit on Sauté mode to allow the extra liquid to evaporate. There should be a thick sauce, but not too much that it's soup-y.
- Serve over rice or noodles.