Chinese Five Spice Braised Pork Belly With Lotus Root and Steamed Yucca
My earliest food memory as a child would have to be my mother’s braised pork shoulder otherwise known in Chinese as “Hong Sao Rou — here the centerpiece for a feast is turkey, at my home it was the almighty braised pork shoulder. It was always everyone’s favorite, I’d remember smelling the wonderful aromas of star anise and ginger enriching the air melting into the delicious meat, and that rich succulent braising liquid that holds the union of spices and delicious juices of the pork in all that dark syrupy goodness. I use to sit on my hands so I wouldn’t be tempted to steal tiny tastes before everyone else sat down at the table. Once seated, my mother would exclaim “Bu yao ke qi, da jia chi chi chi!” meaning “No need to be polite, everyone eat eat eat!!”. She never had to tell me twice, my chopsticks would immediately dart for the pork shoulder, but would be quickly slapped away by my mother — “Not until everyone gets some.”
That was horrible. How could she make me wait? I would watch painfully as slice after slice was handed off to every plate EXCEPT MINE. But I’d tell myself the waiting made the pork taste even better and once it was my turn I would drench my rice in liquid heaven and ask for a slice of pork with a lot of pang ruo (fatty meat) on it! It really was one of the most glorious, satisfying things I’ve ever tasted, like…ever. So I am happy to share this recipe with you guys, it is a comfort food to many Chinese and is extremely popular in Shanghai. The braising liquid becomes thick and sweet and is rich in spices like cinnamon, star anise and ginger. The pork meat, especially the fatty parts, are so melt in your mouth tender that the only logical reaction would be to close your eyes sit back and sigh MMMMmmm.