Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)

Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)

This recipe for Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly or (Hong Shao Rou) makes the most of Blue Dragon ingredients you may already have in your kitchen! Read on to find out more.

Chinese food at home

Chinese New Year has been and gone for another year. We had a fantastic time dancing with the lions and dragons around China Town, nibbling on a BBQ Pork Bun or two as we enjoyed the festivities. Once we got home I decided to make a delicious Chinese feast to celebrate. But, I wasn’t always this confident at cooking Chinese Cuisine.

Years and years ago, I enrolled on a cookery class that changed the way I cooked. I attended an introductory to Chinese cooking class complete with guided tour of China Town before taking a short course in dim sum. I learnt just how easy it was to make tasty, authentic oriental food at home. Ever since I’ve been whipping up everything from noodles and stir fries to dim sum!

Before I took the cookery course the thing that daunted me most was knowing what ingredients I should be using. I had it in my head that I’d need weird and wonderful sounding bottles and jars from the local Oriental Supermarket. It turns out I was wrong! If you’ve got a bottle of soy sauce in your cupboard then that’s a good start! Spring onions, fresh ginger and garlic in your fridge, then great! Sweet chilli dipping sauce? Well then that will come in handy too.

With this recipe I want to show you just how easy it is to make delicious Chinese food with ingredients you can easily buy in your local Sainsburys, Asda or Tescos!

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Hong Shao Rou a Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly Dish served on steamed white rice

Essential ingredients

Let’s start at the very beginning. The main ingredients for this recipe are:

  • pork belly,
  • spring onion,
  • garlic,
  • ginger,
  • soy sauce,
  • sweet chilli dipping sauce and
  • Chinese five spice.

Hopefully there is nothing there that is too unfamiliar.

Pork belly

Pork belly might immediately make you think of an English roast dinner but pork is in fact the most used meat in Chinese cooking. It’s believed that pigs were among the first animals domesticated for food in ancient China and because of their high fat content, pork became a staple of the lower classes providing much needed calories.

The Holy Trinity

Next on the list (spring onion, garlic and ginger) are what’s known as the holy trinity of Chinese cooking. These three simple ingredients are the basis for so many authentic Chinese dishes that they were a must in flavouring the rich pork before adding to the sticky, sweet, spicy sauce.

Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly is enrobed in a super sticky sauce a wonderful Chinese New Year dish

Sweet and sticky sauce

Soy Sauce and Sweet Chilli dipping sauce form the basis of the sweet and spicy sauce that coats the pork belly once cooked. For full details of how to make the sauce, check out the full recipe below.

Now I’ll admit, Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce isn’t the most authentic of ingredients for a Hong Shao Rou recipe. But, it is something that many of us have lurking at the back of our kitchen cupboards or can buy in a supermarket. This sweet and spicy bottle of sauce can be used for so much more than just a dip for prawn crackers! In this recipe it replaces a syrup usually made with brown sugar and water. The chilli gives it an extra hit of spice and more spice means more layers of flavour. It’s a win-win.

The combination of rich, fatty meat with a sweet and spicy sauce makes for some serious comfort food. I love to serve this dish over steamed white rice but it work really well tossed through egg noodles too. Stir fried fresh veggies will help to cut through the richness of the dish but aren’t essential. A sprinkling of Chinese Chives and fresh chilli however are a must! They really finish the dish off perfectly. If you can’t find Chinese Chives then spring onions will do.

Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly or

The Recipe

Now you know what you need to make this Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly it’s about time I showed you how to make this rich, sticky dish.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with a bowl of Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly on Steamed Rice Hong Shao Rou

Sweet and Spicy Belly Pork (Hong Shao Rou)

Sweet and Spicy Belly Pork (also known as Hong Shao Rou) is a delicious Chinese dish that is perfect for serving at Chinese New Year
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 people
Calories 782.9 kcal



  • Begin by pouring the litre of water into a wok and bringing to the boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer and add the pork, spring onions, ginger, garlic and half of the red chilli.
  • Let the aromatics and the pork simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pork from the wok and place on to kitchen roll and pat dry.
  • Discard the water and aromatics in the wok.
  • Next, heat the sesame oil in the wok before adding the pork.
  • Cook the pork for roughly 15 minutes until golden brown all over.
  • Again, remove the pork from the heat and place on to clean kitchen roll. Pat dry.
  • Add the 250ml water, sweet chilli dipping sauce, soy sauce and dried spices to the wok.
  • Stir well to ensure there are no lumps of spice.
  • Heat the sauce gently for 5 minutes until it begins to thicken.
  • (If a scum from the pork which was cooked earlier emerges on the sauce at this stage strain through a sieve.)
  • Add the pork back to the wok and cover with a lid.
  • Let the pork cook in the sauce for 20 minutes.
  • Once the 20 minutes is up, remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes until the sauce has completely reduced.
  • (During this time you can prepare your rice or noodles.)
  • Serve with a sprinkling of Chinese Chives and the remaining red chilli.


Don’t have a wok? Don’t worry, you can use a frying pan with a lid!


Calories: 782.9kcalCarbohydrates: 21.51gProtein: 16.14gFat: 70.29gSaturated Fat: 24.71gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 2118.63mgPotassium: 424.37mgFiber: 1.43gSugar: 16.57gVitamin A: 302.61IUVitamin C: 20.7mgCalcium: 47.25mgIron: 2.38mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


This post is an entry to the Foodies100 Chinese New Year recipe challenge sponsored by Blue Dragon. The range of Blue Dragon products is available in all major supermarkets at an RRP from £0.69. To find out more, visit www.bluedragon.co.uk

More Chinese New Year Recipe Inspiration

Chinese Recipe Archive

There’s more where this came from, check out my Chinese recipe archive.

If you like this, or any other of my recipes, please do leave a rating or a comment! I love to know what you think.

20 thoughts on “Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)”

  • That is so glossy and beautiful like a Chinese lacquered cabinet! Sounds absolutely gorgeous and great that the ingredients are so easily available.

    • Thanks Madeleine 😀 a tasty dinner at the local Chinese restaurant is always a nice treat but its good to be able to whip up authentic dishes at home!

  • I feel like I really need to hop on this pork belly band wagon. I’ve never cooked with it, but I keep seeing so many gorgeous recipes that use it. This looks so good, and what a fantastic experience to take a cooking class and tour in China Town! The first time I visited China Town in London, I was so intimidated just trying to choose a place to eat!

    • It’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed Tracy. A tour is a really fun way of finding out all the secrets that China Town has to offer (did you know you can buy fresh fish, and buy fresh I mean literally swimming around in tanks!)

      Check out this post to find out more.

      • That’s so neat! I had no idea about the fish. Now I’m angry I’ve never seen them! The next time I’m in the UK I will definitely look in to that class. I loved reading your post on it. It sounds like such a great experience.

    • You can’t go wrong with meat and rice can you? This dish has all your favourite Asian flavours 🙂

  • Hi Emma, before I could even read the recipe or see what was going on I was hit with the full gleam of your dish. It looked so stunning that I pinned it straightaway! You are right. Fatty meats go so exceptionally well with sweet and spicy sauce. It’s a spot on combination of every flavour -bomb out there. Wish you much success in the challenge.

    • Thanks Shreyashi you’re too kind! The sheer amount of shine was actually a bit tricky when photographing! Swings and roundabouts 😉 glad you like the dish!

    • Thanks Patricia! You certainly won’t find sauce like it elsewhere. This would definitely work with chicken or beef if you didn’t have pork belly.

  • I have to be honest, I looked at this really craving a Chinese and made it this evening, I followed the recipe to the letter but me and my partner found d it really salty, and not very sweet, it looked exactly as it does in your pictures and smelled great but wasn’t sweet at all. Any ideas where o could have gone wrong?

    • Hi Jack really sorry to hear it wasn’t quite to your tastes! I’m wondering whether it’s just a case of the soy sauce you used being saltier than the one I did. Lots of brands these days are low sodium without being labelled as such. Perhaps yours wasn’t? Id also always recommend tasting as I go along – everyone’s palates are different and perhaps you are slightly more sensitive to salt? I do hope this doesn’t out you off! Hopefully you can tweak it more to your taste next time 🙂

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