Nothing like Mother’s or Father’s day makes me homesick, and nothing like an old-style red-braised pork with hard-boiled egg makes me feel instantly better! Red-braised pork is a very popular dish in China and it is a must-have for holiday gatherings. Every family cooks this dish in slightly different ways. In my family, red-braised pork is my mom’s specialty. She seal the meat first and steam everything instead of boiling it. And the eggs in this dish is my absolutely favorite.
Image via The wok of life
Authentic red-braised pork is cooked with pork belly with skin attached. It ensures that the pork contains at least 30% fat. And after it is cooked, there is supposed to be a thick layer of pork fat on the top of the final product. It does sound horrifying to a lot of folks, but it made a lot of sense back to the 80’s when I grew up. For a long time, meat supply was limited in China and a slice of pork might be all you could get as meat for a week. So pork was usually thinly sliced or minced and stir-fried with veggies. The only meat dish by itself in my family was the red-braised pork and mom cooked it every Saturday night.
The Red-braised pork holds a special place in my heart because there is a family story behind it. During a big part of the 80’s, my sister lived in boarding school where the dining option was just horrible. As a teenager, she did not get to eat meat at all during the week. The only chance for her to eat meat is when she returned home on Saturday. So every Saturday evening, my mom will started cooking the pork as soon as possible, so when my sister walked in the door, she could have a decent dinner for one night a week. As a toddler I was really excited to eat meat too. So looking back, my parents probably did not eat much themselves. My sister usually took bus back to school on Sunday afternoon. My mom will pack the rest of the pork, and seal it in a jar for me sister to take to school. Just so she could enjoy it for one more dinner. So it is not difficult to understand why this dish was cooked with very fatty meat, and especially in my family. And in my heart, my mom makes the best red-braised pork ever!
I followed this recipe today and had to use lean pork – I just cannot find fatty pork belly with skin on in regular grocery store anywhere. And I was not committed enough to drive half an hour to the nearest Chinese store. It might not taste like mom’s, but hubby loved it and the whole house smelled so great for hours.Hopefully in near future mom and dad can come visit and I will have mom’s red-braised pork again!