How to Make Fuchsia Dunlop's Shanghai Red-Braised Pork with Eggs

This entry-level Chinese classic from an award-winning cookbook author takes only a few ingredients and is even better the next day.

Photo By: Food Network Kitchen

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell

Photo By: Angela Carlos

Photo By: Angela Carlos

Photo By: Angela Carlos

Photo By: Angela Carlos

Photo By: Angela Carlos

Photo By: Angela Carlos

Photo By: Angela Carlos

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell

A Step-by-Step Guide

"This is real mama's cooking," declares Fuchsia Dunlop approvingly as she watches chunks of tender pork belly bobbing about in a gorgeous mahogany bath of soy sauce, ginger and scallion. The James Beard-award winning author is in Food Network Kitchen demonstrating how to make Shanghai Red-Braised Pork with Eggs, one of the dozens of seductive dishes she lays out in her new book, Land of Fish and Rice. Here is a step-by-step lesson for beginners.

By Lygeia Grace; photographs by Heather Ramsdell and Angela Carlos

Get the Recipe: Shanghai Red-Braised Pork with Eggs

Better the Next Day

The mechanics of the dish are simple: You sear and then simmer the pork in a flavorful stew scented with a few aromatics until the meat yields to the touch. And like other, similar homespun dishes — think beef bourguignon, braised lamb shanks or pork adobo — it's even better the next day. According to one legend Dunlop retells, the dish got its start as a welcome meal for a traveling son returning home; he was days late, but the stew’s flavor only improved each morning his mother heated it up in anticipation of his arrival. This makes it practical in modern times, too, says Dunlop, "It's a good dish to make a day in advance and chill for a dinner party. The last thing you want is every dish on your menu to be a stir fry or you will never talk to your friends." On a visit from her native England, Dunlop stopped by to show FNK chefs Vivian Chan and Ginevra Iverson how it's done. 

Blanch the Pork

"Red braising is used across China," says Fuchsia Dunlop of the cooking technique in which ingredients are stewed with soy sauce, wine and sugar. (The "red" comes from the color the food takes on from the soy sauce.) Cooks use it "to coax pork belly into ecstatic tenderness," she writes in in her book. But before any seasonings are added, the meat is "cleaned" by parboiling it. "You get rid of the bloody juices for a clear result," says Dunlop. After boiling the pork for 5 minutes, she drains and rinses the meat under cold running water.

Slit the Eggs

Peel your hard-cooked eggs and then make 6 to 8 shallow slashes in each. "Cut through the white reasonably deep, but not so it falls apart," instructs Dunlop.  Perfectly boiled eggs are not the point here, she says. After simmering with the pork "'they are going to be 'overcooked' anyway."

Season Your Pan

"You don't need to have a wok for this dish," says Dunlop. "I am all for improvising and this is basically a stew." To make the pan nonstick: "Get it hot. Pour in a little cooking oil then swirl it around," she says. "Make sure the whole cooking surface is coated. Smoke should be coming off. Then pour it out and add a little more oil for cooking." Save the discarded oil to reuse for seasoning the next time you cook.  

Add the Aromatics

The ginger and scallion in this dish are for flavor only, so they don't have to be cut up in a particular way, according to Dunlop. She tells Chan to use the flat of her knife blade to "smack the ginger and scallion to loosen it up" before adding it to the wok along with a piece of star anise and cassia bark (cinnamon is an easy substitute). "You are extracting the fragrance," Dunlop instructs. "Use your nose to tell when it's ready. It should be smelling wonderful."

Prepare to Braise

Once the pork is seared, add Shaoxing wine. "Give it a good stir, like when cooking with sherry or other alcohol," says Dunlop. Next up, add 3 cups of chicken or pork stock, though you can use water if that's all you have. "The flavors of the soy, wine and sugar will help," says Dunlop.

Add the Eggs

Dunlop instructs Chan to lower in the eggs gently. With them go 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce and some sugar. Dunlop often uses superfine sugar because it dissolves quickly. Rock sugar also works. "It has a nice caramelized flavor." She advises wrapping rock sugar in a towel and hitting it a few times with the back of a cleaver or rolling pin to break it up before using. 

A Low-Maintenance Stew

Bring the ingredients to a boil and then cover and simmer for 45 minutes. You don't need to skim the liquid, Dunlop explains. "There is very little froth because of the blanching of the pork first." The first phase is done when the eggs take on the color of the soy sauce and the pork is cooked: "The Chinese like the pork to be tender with a bit of spring in it. Westerners may like to cook it longer to make it more tender," says Dunlop. Don't be put off by the fat on the meat. "It's the most delicious part."

Chill and Skim

After the first cook, the stew is transferred to a bowl and refrigerated overnight so the fat can rise to the surface and solidify. "There is a nice thick layer," says Dunlop inspecting a batch prepared the day before in anticipation of her visit. "Remove the fat. Underneath you get a gorgeous gelatinous stock. Definitely don't throw away the fat. You can keep it in the fridge 3 days; I freeze it to add to a mushroom stir fry or bamboo stir fry. It's terrific. Even with stir fry green vegetables; the fat makes it magically delicious." 

Work Low and Slow

Transfer the remaining contents of the bowl to a wok. "Heat it gently to warm the jelly and so the eggs don't fall apart. They sort of tighten up," says Dunlop. "As the stew loosens pick out the spices — the ginger, scallion, star anise and bark — with your chopsticks. They are not so pleasant to come across when you eat."

Reduce and Redden

Stirring constantly, boil the stew until it is reduced by half. Dunlop then adds 1/2 tablespoon of dark soy sauce "to give it a richness of color on the outside of the meat." 

Homecoming Winner

A side of white rice and a simple green, like stir-fried bok choy, turns the pork stew into a full meal. Dunlop's recipe yields 6 to 8 servings, though we stretched it to twice that because everyone at Food Network Kitchen was eager for a taste. To make your own Shanghai Red-Braised Pork with Eggs, get the recipe here.

Ready to stock your Chinese pantry? Get a list of Dunlop's must-have items. Then try your hand at her Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles and Crisp Seaweed with Peanuts.