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红烧肉 (Braised Pork)

02 Jul 2018

What happened?

Round 1:

First browned pork. Then used same oil to caramelize sugar, instantly turned into a black goop. This is why you use cold oil to start!

Took fresh oil and caramelized some sugar. Once it became brown, added cold water. It instantly cooled into a piece of rock candy. Stirred some until it broke up - this is why you add hot water!

Added soy sauce, salt, bay leaf, ginger, star anis. Added meat, let simmer in liquid. Tasted 45 min in - Meat is tender but not flavorful enough. Also it tasted a bit gamey, should have added shaoxing wine. After 1 hr 15, flavor seeped in more, still pretty tender, but not melt in your mouth tender.

Round 2:

Tried four different batches.


Bay leaf star anis, cooked meat in caramelized sugar. Color is quite red. Still a bit gamey. Cooked on small pot. This batch was mix brined.


Didn’t add star anis. Burnt it by forgetting to turn down heat! Seems leaving lid on doesn’t do much for keeping water in. Cooked on big pot. This batch was brined overnight.


No bay leaf. Star anis a bit stronger. Bay leaf rounds flavor? This was cooked on small pan with no lid. Turned out most red. This batch was not brined overnight. Sauce was much sweeter, tasted better like this Meat was tougher though. What makes it tough / not? Was it the brine? Smaller pieces? Open lid?


Mixed brine ones. Tasted more tender but all of it did, so unclear if brine did anything. Did not glaze, everything else same. Color came out very different, more bland, not as sweet

What learned?

Add sugar to cold oil to let it heat up to caramelization, then add in hot water to dilute it.

Bay leaf seems to round out the flavor some?

Experiments can’t test so many different variables at once, or else it’s hard to have actual conclusions.

Get more same sized pots for experiments.

To learn

Experiment more with bay leaf and star anis.

What makes rock sugar different from regular sugar?

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