Braised Pork Belly

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
February 17, 2024 | Updated on February 17, 2024

Braised pork belly is caramelized, then slowly cooked in a fragrant broth until it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender. Learn how to make braised pork belly with this easy recipe so you can make a restaurant-quality meal from the comfort of your kitchen.

For more tasty pork recipes, try crispy Pork Belly Lechon, Filipino BBQ (Pork Skewers), and Pork Lumpia Shanghai.

a bowl of braised pork belly over white rice, garnished with scallions

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This slow braised pork belly is simmered in a rich broth infused with ingredients like sake, soy sauce, Thai chili, and plenty of aromatics. The caramelization of the pork belly lends a touch of sweetness, balanced by the savory umami notes of the broth. As it cooks, the liquid gradually thickens into a delectable sauce that will have you eager for the next bite.

Why This Braised Pork Belly Recipe Works

  • Simple – This recipe takes a couple of hours but the instructions are incredibly easy to follow. Boil, caramelize, then simmer, stirring every 15 minutes or so. That’s it!
  • Flavorful – Braised pork belly benefits from a quick toss in the pan. The caramelized crust adds complex flavor and amazing texture. It’s a tasty contrast to the succulent meat just beneath the surface once the pork is braised.
  • Unique – This recipe isn’t Shanghai-style like so many other red braised pork belly recipes but I was inspired by it. I added my own unique twist with inclusions like lemongrass, orange zest, and Thai chili.
pork belly, seasoning, and aromatics in a pot

Tools You’ll Need

Ingredients You Will Need for Slow Braised Pork Belly

This ingredient list is a delicate balance of rich, bold flavors. We have the sweetness of rock sugar and brown sugar, the spiciness of Thai chili, and the mouthwatering depth of sake and soy sauce.

  • Pork belly – Pork belly is a rich, fatty piece of meat. That marbling yields amazing flavor and makes the meat succulent when properly braised. Ensure they’re cut into uniform bite-size pieces for even cooking.
  • Yellow rock sugar – This adds a subtle sweetness and helps to caramelize the pork belly during cooking, enhancing its flavor and texture.
  • Avocado oil – Use this oil to lightly fry the pork belly before braising.
  • Chicken stock – This is the liquid base for the braising liquid. Use low sodium chicken stock since we’re using soy sauce. Otherwise, the final dish may be too salty.
  • Sake – Add this Japanese rice wine for added depth.
  • Soy sauce – This boosts the umami flavor.
  • Brown sugar – This sweetness complements the deep savory notes.
  • Aromatics – Infuse the broth with lemongrass, scallions, ginger, and smashed garlic cloves for fresh flavor.
  • Thai chili – This tiny pepper packs a fiery heat. It’s within 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville units. That’s hotter than a jalapeno but not as spicy as a habanero pepper.
  • Orange zest – This brightens the dish, adding a bright citrusy taste.
a package of rock candy for caramelizing pork

What to Serve with Braised Pork Belly

  • Jasmine rice
  • Scallions, finely chopped

How To Braise Pork Belly

You’re just a few simple steps from mastering the art of braising pork belly. Let’s get into it!

  1. Bring a medium pot of hot water to a boil. Once boiling, add pork belly and cook for 3 minutes. Drain pork belly, rinse, and pat meat well with a paper towel. Set aside.
boiling pork belly in a pot

2. Heat a wok or sauté pan over medium high heat. Add avocado oil and rock sugar. After 1 min, using wok spatula to break the sugar into smaller pieces. Once sugar is completely melted and begins to lightly brown, carefully add the pork belly. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your wok/pan.

3. Fry pork belly until caramelized on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

4. In a medium-size dutch oven, add chicken stock, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, orange zest, brown sugar, chilis, lemongrass, sake, and garlic. Add pork belly along with juices. Belly should be about ¾ of the way submerged. Add more chicken stock, if needed.

5. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 – 2¼ hours or until very tender, stirring every 10-15 minutes to keep the bottom from burning. Add more water if the braising liquid begins to dry out. The sauce should be nice and thick by the end of cooking.

6. Serve braised pork belly with rice, leftover sauce, and finely chopped scallions.

caramelized pork belly in skillet

Tips and Tricks for the Best Braised Pork Belly

  • Boil the pork belly before cooking. This removes impurities for a cleaner taste.
  • Keep a close eye on the pan while caramelizing the sugar because it can easily burn. It’s ready once the sugar turns light brown.
  • This recipe requires patience as the pork belly slowly braises to perfection. It can take up to 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Stir the mixture every 10-15 minutes to keep the bottom from burning.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Ensure the pork is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145°F for food safety. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.

Variations

  • Soy Sauce – Depending on taste and presentation, you may prefer light soy sauce or dark soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce. Light soy sauce is salty with a more delicate flavor, while dark soy sauce is thicker, with a more pronounced umami flavor. The latter also adds a brownish hue to the meat.
  • Sake You can use Shaoxing wine or dry sherry as substitutes for sake because they have similar flavors that work well in this braised pork belly recipe.
aromatics and pork belly added to pot

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to braise a pork belly?

Depending on the size and thickness of the cut and the temperature, pork belly can take 2-3 hours to cook. It’s important to cook the meat on low to medium heat for the best results.

Does pork belly get more tender the longer you cook it?

Yes, slow-cooking pork belly over low heat for 2-3 hours makes the meat more tender. As the pork belly cooks, the collagen and connective tissues break down, resulting in a softer texture. However, it is possible to overcook the meat so monitor its progress.

What is the meaning of braised pork belly?

Braising is a cooking method that involves searing the pork belly in oil at a high temperature, and then slowly cooking it in a covered pot with liquid at a lower temperature. This cooking method is usually reserved for tougher cuts of meat but because pork belly has so much fat, it benefits from braising. The moisture from the simmer breaks down these connective tissues, resulting in a tender pork belly.

Why is my braised pork belly tough?

If your braised pork belly is tough, it either needs to cook longer or it was cooked over too high heat.

What does braised pork belly taste like?

Braised pork belly has a rich, savory flavor. The sauce is infused with aromatic spices and seasonings, which offers a harmonious balance of sweet, salty, and umami flavors. When cooked just right, the meat is succulent.

braised pork belly in a pot

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a bowl of braised pork belly over white rice, garnished with scallions

Braised Pork Belly

Braised pork belly is caramelized, then slowly cooked in a fragrant broth until it's melt-in-your-mouth tender. Learn how to make braised pork belly with this easy recipe so you can make a restaurant-quality meal from the comfort of your kitchen.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Asian

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven
  • Wok or sauté pan

Ingredients

  • pounds pork belly, cut into 2" cubes
  • 2 tablespoons rock sugar
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock, low sodium
  • ½ cup sake
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 pieces lemongrass, bottom three inches, smacked with back of knife
  • 2 large scallions, green parts only, cut into 2" long pieces
  • 3 coins ginger, ⅛" thick
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 pieces thai chili
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest

To Serve

  • jasmine rice
  • scallions finely chopped

Instructions

  • Bring a medium pot of hot water to a boil. Once boiling, add pork belly and cook for 3 minutes. Drain pork belly, rinse, and pat meat well with a paper towel. Set aside.
  • Heat a wok or sauté pan over medium high heat. Add avocado oil and rock sugar. After 1 min, using wok spatula to break the sugar into smaller pieces. Once sugar is completely melted and begins to lightly brown, carefully add the pork belly. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your wok/pan.
  • Fry pork belly until caramelized on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • In a medium-size dutch oven, add chicken stock, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, orange zest, brown sugar, chilis, lemongrass, sake, and garlic. Add pork belly along with juices. Belly should be about ¾ of the way submerged. Add more chicken stock, if needed.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 – 2¼ hours or until very tender, stirring every 10-15 minutes to keep the bottom from burning. Add more water if the braising liquid begins to dry out. The sauce should be nice and thick by the end of cooking.
  • Serve with rice, leftover sauce, and finely chopped scallions.
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a bowl of braised pork belly over white rice, garnished with scallions

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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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