Pork belly caramelised and braised in soy sauce with star anise, cinnamon and chilies served with steamed buns (he yeh bao -  荷葉包).
Food - Drink
China's Flavorful Red-Cooking Technique Uses Just A Few Ingredients
What Is Red Cooking?
Red cooking, or hong shao, is a Chinese technique for braising ingredients like pork, chicken, tofu, or fish, over long periods of time. The technique gets its name from its delicious red sauce used, which over time not only imbues the braised meat with its red color but also its rich flavor.
According to legend, red cooking was created accidentally by a mother who wanted to serve her son his favorite meal upon his return from the capital city of Beijing. However, the son’s journey took longer than expected, so she ended up cooking the dish on and off over a three-day period, resulting in tender meat and a rich sauce.
Red cooking requires minimal ingredients such as dark soy sauce, rock sugar, and a Chinese cooking wine like Shaoxing wine. although a dry sherry or Japanese mirin will also work. For spices, you'll need cassia bark, star anise, fresh ginger, garlic, and spring onions, and then all you need is the meat you want to cook.
To ensure your red cooking turns out well, make sure to keep an eye on the temperature, since the meat may not absorb enough flavor at a low temperature and your sauce can dry out at high temperatures. Your cook time can last anywhere from 20 minutes for fish to 90 minutes for pork belly but some recipes will take over a day.
Just as cook time varies depending on what meat you choose, your ingredient list will change depending on your meat. For instance, red braised fish might benefit from the addition of black vinegar for the best flavor, while chicken only needs ginger, scallions, and maybe cornstarch to thicken the sauce.