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Red-Cooked Pork & A Cookbook Giveaway! {giveaway closed}

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of the Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees cookbook by Clarkson Potter in order to conduct this review and giveaway.

The Mid-Autumn festival in China, the second most important holiday following Chinese New Year, is celebrated with a large feast and the harvest moon. This year it falls on September 15th, making my review of Kian Lam Kho’s cookbook, Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, rather timely.


Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees is a beautifully put-together cookbook, outlining traditional Chinese cooking techniques and recipes. The photographs are breathtaking, the descriptive texts are fluid and enjoyable to read, and the recipes have clearly been selected with care. Kian Lam Kho categorized his recipes by cooking method, including Playing with Fire; Enriching with Smoke; and The Power of Steam. This category choice mirrors his belief about Chinese cooking: that the cuisine is best learned by technique.

This cookbook is perfect for a more experienced home cook who is looking to master traditional Chinese cooking. In learning the traditional styles, your adventurous side will come to life as you try the same techniques with your own unique choice of ingredients.


I tested his recipe for Red-Cooked Pork, which was also my first time cooking with pork belly. Not only did I find all the ingredients I needed in Montreal’s Chinatown, which I’m sure you would also find at a specialty store, I was so pleased that my first attempt cooking pork belly was a success! Seared and slow-cooked, the pork comes to life in a simmering sauce of cooking wine, star anise and garlic. This recipe is a family treasure for Kian, and has certainly become one of mine as well.

Red-Cooked Pork
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  • 1.5 lbs pork belly
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves (I left them whole)
  • 2 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1 and 1/2 cups pork stock, the liquid from parboiling, or water, plus more as needed


  1. Put the entire pork belly in a stockpot and add enough water to cover the meat completely. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium. Parboil the pork belly, uncovered, for 20 minutes, continuously skimming off the scum that forms on the surface. Drain, and let the pork belly cool. Then cut into pieces about 1 1/2 inches square.
  2. Combine the sugar with 3 tbsp water in a wok over medium heat. Continue heating until the sugar syrup just begins to turn yellow. Add the cubed pork belly to the wok and brown it with the caramelized sugar, stirring the meat regularly to prevent burning. if you like, cover the wok with a splatter guard to prevent the fat from splattering.
  3. Add the garlic, scallions, star anise, boy say sauces, wine, and stock to the wok. Bring the liquid to a boil, then transfer the contents to a clay pot or dutch oven (I put it all in a slow cooker). Simmer, covered, over low heat, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent scorching the pork on the bottom (not necessary in the slow cooker), for 1 hour or until the meat is tender when pierced with a knife.
  4. Remove the meat and put it in a bowl. Reduce the sauce of medium-high until it reaches the desired consistency. Return the meat to the pot and reheat before serving.

Note: I chose to cook my dish a bit longer in the slow cooker, about 2 hours, and it turned out beautifully tender. Also, I reduced my sauce by about half but it still didn’t have the beautiful caramelized colour that Red-Cooked Pork is known for, so I’m wondering if that it was the type of cooking wine I used. It was still absolutely delicious, in any case.

Update: I spoke with Kian and he confirmed that the lack of caramelized colour in my photos was because the soy sauce I used wasn’t really the “dark” kind! So if you’d like to get a beautiful dark colour, make sure you purchase the kind that distinctly labels their soy sauce as dark.


I’ve got a copy of the Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees cookbook up for grabs! Leave a comment below naming your favourite Chinese dish to be entered to win.

This giveaway is open to all residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway will run from September 6th to October 2nd at 12:00pm. Winner is chosen at random. Winner will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to respond.  If not, a new winner will be chosen. Winner selected MUST correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question. Winner’s name will be displayed on Cocoa Bean, The Vegetable’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Email addresses will never be given out to a third party or anyone for that matter. Prize value is approximately $35 CDN. Thank you to Clarkson Potter for providing the prize.


Kian Lam Kho is a food writer, cooking teacher and food consultant specializing in Chinese cuisine. He is the creator of the James Beard Foundation Awards nominated Chinese home cooking blog Red Cook, and his first cookbook on Chinese cooking techniques, Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking, is the recipient of the Julia Child First Book Award from IACP (International Association of Culinary Professional) in 2016. He lives in New York City and teaches Chinese cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education and the Brooklyn Kitchen. He appears regularly as speaker and discussion panelist on Chinese cuisine and its history. He is also a frequent guest chef at various restaurants.