Braised Caramelised Pork Belly

Braised and caramelised in the one sentence? It’s time to thank Chinese Poet, Dong Po!

Zhou Mama


Dong Po was a gastronome, calligrapher, painter, politician, pharmacologist and above all, a poet and writer during the Song dynasty. He has written some of the most well-known poems in classical Chinese literature. Now you may be thinking, what has this got to do with my delicious braised caramelised pork belly?

Legend has it that when the city of Hangzhou experienced extreme flooding, Dong Po organised tens of thousands of workers to expand the iconic West Lake by building a long embankment and bridge to clear the water and restore the lake’s natural beauty.

The people gifted him with lots of delicious braised pork. Dong Po humbly shared this with the tens of thousands of workers who restored the beautiful lake. He asked his family to cut the pork into cubes and cook the pieces in wine, giving the braised meat a crispy and tasty finish. The people praised the dish and began to spread this unique roasting method around China. Braised pork belly has continued to thrive throughout Chinese history, making it a loved and widely appreciated dish in China’s food culture.

Have a read of our Chinese-inspired Braised Caramelised Pork Belly recipe below.


Serves: 4


1.5kg pork belly chopped into biteable sizes

4 cups kecap manis

6 star anises

3 cinnamon sticks

1 cup oyster sauce

1 white onion

2 cups water

3 tbsp salt

200g ginger sliced

3 long red chillies

¼ bunch coriander

2 zucchini

2 celery hearts

1 eggplant

¼ carrot



In a large pot, add the kecap manis, star anise, cinnamon sticks, oyster sauce, water, fresh ginger, chillies and whole onion and set to low-medium heat.

Cook for 1-2 minutes uncovered and stir regularly. Add the pork belly pieces and score the skin into squares. This will cause the pork to shrink and give the skin a really shiny surface.

Turn the heat down to low and cook for a further 1.5 – 2 hours to braise.

Remove the star anise from the sauce, take the pork out of the pot and set aside to serve.

This beautifully prepared braised caramelised pork belly can be served with a side of stir fried vegetables or rice.

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