Chinese Ginger-Soy Braised Pork

There are as many versions of this hong shao rou dish as there are families because recipes for Chinese red-cooked pork vary by region and often are passed down within generations. The up-shot though, is succulent pork coated in savory spiced caramel. And the verdict? In a word, FANTASTIC!!

Dark soy sauce develops a crimson tint with long-cooking, lending hong shao rou its characteristic hue. This Instant Pot iteration from Milk Street omits the condiment, which can be tricky to source, resulting in a dish that’s less red but no less delicious. The pork shoulder is braised with ginger, garlic and warm spices, rounded out by sugar, soy sauce and dry sherry, an easier-to-find alternative to Shaoxing, the rice wine traditionally used in the dish. (We had some Shaoxing on hand.)

Whether pressure- or slow-cooked until fork-tender, the meat is reserved and its aromatic braising liquid is reduced into a sticky-sweet sauce. Assertive and robust in flavor, hong shao rou is best served with plain rice and simple steamed or stir-fried vegetables. So we paired ours with steamed jasmine rice and baby bok choy sautéed with ginger, garlic, Shaoxing rice wine—many of the same ingredients as the pork.

NOTE: Don’t add liquid to the pot other than the ⅓ cup of dry sherry. Allowing the pork to braise in its own juices yields rich, meaty flavor and results in less liquid to reduce to a glaze at the end.

Chinese Ginger-Soy Braised Pork

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of fat, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens reserved separately
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, preferably dark soy sauce
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


  1. On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select Normal Sauté. Add the sugar and 1 tablespoon water, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has liquified and is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork is no longer pink and has rendered some fat, 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the scallion whites, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, sherry and soy sauce. Press Cancel, then distribute the mixture in an even layer.

FAST: Lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 25 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then release the remaining steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot. OR

SLOW: Select More/High Sauté and bring the mixture to a boil. Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Venting. Select Slow Cook and set the temperature to More/High. Set the cooking time for 4½ to 5½ hours; the pork is done when a skewer inserted into a piece meets no resistance. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.

  1. Transfer the pork to a medium bowl, leaving the cooking liquid in the pot. If necessary, using a large spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the surface of the liquid.
  2. Select More/High Sauté, bring the liquid to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to the consistency of honey, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon and star anise.
  3. Return the pork and any accumulated juices to the pot and cook, stirring, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Press Cancel to turn off the pot.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the scallion greens.

Recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

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