Sweet and sticky, this melt-in-your-mouth Chinese-style beer braised pork belly is simple to make and incredibly flavorful. Served with potatoes, noodles, or rice.
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Whenever I go to the market and pick up a pork belly, I often think it's going to be turned into bacon or some form of crackling something but today was going to be different because I was craving a saucy meal which rice and the only thing I had in the fridge was a can of beer. Today is going to be a good day.
Is this super traditional? Nope - the traditional Chinese braised pork belly recipe doesn't usually have garlic and onions and most definitely not beer but caramelized garlic and onions add another dimension of flavor which go fantastic with pork belly.
The final dish has a sweet, sticky, and flavorful dish with hints of bitterness from the beer to offset the sweetness.
Ingredients for Beer Braised Pork Belly
- Pork Belly - Try to use pork belly for this recipe. It may seem a bit fatty but the texture from the fat is melt in the mouth and melds with the sauce.
- Beer - For the beer, I used a dark beer but that is only because I enjoy the hint of bitterness to it. If you prefer something less bitter, you can use a light beer. A few people have made this with dark beers (stouts and porters) and found it incredibly bitter. Since beers have different IBU (International Bitterness Scale), I recommend using a beer that you enjoy drinking or a light or medium beer - unless you enjoy the bitterness of dark beers.
- Broth - I like to use beef broth for this because it is a bit more robust in flavor but you can definitely substitute it with any type of broth.
- Soy Sauce/Dark Soy Sauce - For the regular soy sauce, I like to use light soy sauce. The dark soy sauce is used mainly for dark rich color, you can omit it if you can't find it or you can find it online here.
- Rice Vinegar - Rice vinegar is lighter than regular white vinegar and has more flavor. If you cannot find it, you can substitute it with half the amount of apple cider vinegar.
- Chinese Cooking Wine - You can use either the Chinese white rice cooking wine or the dark Shaoxing Cooking wine for this recipe. If you can't find either of them you can use dry sherry or find it online here.
- Chinese Five Spice Powder - This ingredient cannot be omitted or substituted since it gives this dish its flavor.
- Chinese Yellow Rock Sugar - For the sugar I used Chinese yellow rock sugar because it gives the meat and sauce that glossy sheen. It cooks down almost syrupy which is one of the traits of a good braised pork belly. This can be substituted with regular sugar.
How to Make Chinese Braised Pork Belly
- Slice up the ginger and roughly smash the garlic.
- Cut the pork belly into 2cm x 3cm chunks. Don't cut them too thin or it will melt away and there won't be much to eat!
- Brown the pork belly. Add in the onions, ginger and garlic to brown as well as this will give it even more flavor.
Note: When you brown pork belly it splatters - a lot. I'm pretty sure I have splatters of grease on my ceiling - occupational hazard right? To alleviate this issue I had to literally hold up the lid like a shield against the pot and deflect the oil splatters away from me. If you foodies out there have a better method, give me a shout! 🙂
- Add all the braising liquids and spices into the pan and set the stove to high and bring everything to a vigorous boil and boil everything for 15 minutes.
- Once it has boiled for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to medium low and braise for 1 hour and 20 minutes. A lot of fat will render out of the pork belly, skim off the fat before serving.
- Serve it up with white rice, plain noodles or roasted potatoes (Yep, potatoes! We liked it with fries!)
How to Serve this Asian Braised Pork Belly
- Rice - The easiest way to serve this is with a side of egg fried rice or steamed white rice. The rice absorbs the sauce and it's an easy, comforting meal!
- Noodles - I also like to make this with noodles. You can use any type of noodles for this recipe. Boil it the way according to the instructions and top it with the pork belly and sauce!
- Potatoes - You can serve this with roasted potatoes or mashed potatoes but my personal favorite is dipping fries into it.
More Chinese Recipes You May Like
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Beer Braised Pork Belly (Chinese Style)
- IMPORTANT UPDATE: Update 08/29/18: A few people have made this with dark beers (stouts and porters) and found it incredibly bitter. Since beers have different IBU (International Bitterness Scale), I recommend using a beer that you enjoy drinking or a light or medium beer - unless you enjoy the bitterness of dark beers.
- During the simmering process a lot of the fat will render out of the pork belly. Skim off the fat so there isn't a layer of grease before serving.
- Pork belly splatters a lot during the browning process! Use a lid as a shield to deflect some of that hot oil away from you
- An alternative to pork belly that this also works with is pork ribs or pork hocks! 🙂 Cut up the pork ribs into individual ribs and use the same directions.
- 2 lbs pork belly
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 4 x4 cm ginger (sliced)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup beer
- 3 cups beef broth
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 2-3 small Chinese yellow rock sugar (or 3 tablespoons of regular sugar)
- green onions (finely chopped)
- toasted sesame seeds
- Slice the ginger and onions and roughly smash the garlic
- Cut the pork belly into 2cm x 3cm chunks. (Don't cut them up too thin else they will melt away into nothing!)
- In a skillet or heavy-bottomed pot, set the heat to medium and add in the pork belly to start browning it. (Be careful at this point. Pork belly splatters a lot! Use a lid as a shield to deflect some of that hot oil away from you, if you have to!)
- When you have browned the pork belly halfway through, add in the onions, garlic and ginger to brown them as well.
- Once all the pork belly has been browned, add in the five spice, beer, rice vinegar, broth, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, shaoxing cooking wine, sugar.
- Set the stove to high and bring everything to a vigorous boil and boil it for 15 minutes
- Once everything has boiled for 15 minutes, set the stove to medium-low to low heat and put a lid on the pot. You want the braising liquid to be doing a low rolling boil. Check on the pot at the 45-minute mark to make sure the sauce hasn't reduced to less than half the amount of liquid and that it isn't burning. If the sauce is a syrupy consistency, then it's done. If the sauce hasn't reduced to a syrupy consistency, cook it for another 35 minutes but check on it every 10 minutes. (For a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes)
- If it still hasn't reached that syrupy consistency, continue to cook it for 5-10 more minutes until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve with white rice, plain noodles or roasted potatoesmashed potatoes (we liked fries! 🙂 )
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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I’d really like to make this recipe but unfortunately pork belly is SUPER pricey where I live. Is pork butt a suitable substitute or would it not work? Obviously the texture would not be the same but I wouldn’t mind. Thank you!
Joyce Lee says
Yea I know what you mean, meat is getting super pricey lately where I am too 🙁
I haven't tried pork butt but I don't see why it wouldn't work! 🙂
The only thing to watch out for is, the pork butt needs to hit at least 200f before the connective tissue breaks down and gets soft so you may need to cut it longer than what the recipe calls for so watch out for the water levels. If you notice that the pork butt is not soft enough, cook it longer and if the braising liquid is getting too thick and low, add more water so it can braise for a bit longer. Hope I'm making sense? 🙂
Hope this turns out well for you! I'm curious to try using pork butt as well and may have to try this!
WoW ! My husband really loves this Sweet Braised Pork Belly, which is 1 of my husband's the most favorable one. We can eat this specialty dish only to go to our known authentic Chinese restaurants 😋. Now, I can make this dish, to amaze him.
Joyce Lee says
I'm so happy you like this! Lucky husband!
Dan S says
This recipe is incredible! I made this meal for my husband's birthday dinner during lockdown and he said it was as good as a restaurant meal - I agree! We served it on mashed potatoes with a carrot, beet, cabbage, and broccoli stem slaw. My neighbours were very jealous!
Joyce Lee says
I'm so happy everyone liked this! I bet the sauce was amazing over the mashed potatoes! Wow that really sounds like such a fantastic meal - what a lucky husband to have you! heehee Wishing your husband a happy belated birthday! 😀
I love your recipe and have tried it many times but I have 2 queries.
First, the most recent time I tried the recipe, all the liquid evaporated super quickly and I didn’t get any gravy at the bottom, just oil, and the pork stuck to the bottom of the pot and was burnt slightly. I am not sure why this is so as I have tried it many time before and it worked perfectly. I used a different beer which has a lower alcohol content and I suspect this might be the reason.
Second, I recently purchased an Instant Pot and I was wondering if you have any modifications to be made for the recipe to adjust it for pressure cookers and Instant Pots.
Joyce Lee says
Hmmm that's very interesting. I would have thought lower content alcohol would evaporate the liquid slower. Did you use a lid while you were braising?
As for the Instant pot, if you can brown the ingredients in the Instant pot that would be fantastic. The one I have, you cannot do that so I have to brown the ingredients in a frying pan and then transfer it to the pressure cooker. For cooking time, it would depend on your pressure cooker but you would definitely only need to braise it for less time and it usually will not reduce the sauce therefore it will not thicken it and make it syrupy. I usually need to add a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon of corn starch, with 1 tablespoon of cold water) and add it in when it is simmering to thicken the sauce.
Hope that helps 🙂