Dongpo Pork

Dongpo Pork Recipe

Chinese Dongpo Pork

Dongpo pork is Hangzhou’s trademark dish, a sumptuous feast of meat; wonderfully rich tasting. To eat it is to begin to understand the role of fat in making meat taste great.

This banquet-level dish is not simple to cook, and it takes time, but it is absolutely worth doing for a special occasion, and serving it with a bunch of other, contrasting Chinese dishes. However, it’s not a good idea to serve it to those with a phobia of fat.

Serves 4

1 kg (2.2 lb) piece pork belly
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon tea leaves
4 stalks spring onions
7 cm (3″) length fresh, young ginger, sliced lengthways into matchstick widths
Optional: 300 g (11 oz) broccoli, cut into small florets

Sauce Ingredients

1 cup water
8 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
5 slices old ginger (or 7 slices young ginger)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns


  1. Blanch pork in a pot of boiling water. Throw out water.
    Put pork back in pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a wok and add sauce ingredients. Mix well and bring to a boil. Add pork and cook each surface for a few minutes over a medium heat. Remove pork and drain well. Pour remaining sauce into a small saucepan and set aside.
  3. Clean and drain wok. Heat vegetable oil to a medium heat. Fry pork on all sides until it is well browned, making sure skin side is a little crispy.
  4. Steep tea leaves in hot water for a couple of minutes, remove and set aside.
  5. Place pork in pot of water again–topping up water if necessary. Add tea leaves and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Place scallion stalks on bottom of a steamer. Transfer pork to steamer. Steam for 2 hours, turning pork after 1 hour (because of long steaming time, you may need to replenish steamer water).
  7. Add broccoli to steamer for final 5 minutes of cooking time (boil it separately for 3 minutes if there is no room in steamer.
  8. Remove pork to a serving dish and arrange broccoli around it. Reheat sauce in saucepan, adding and stirring in thickener. Pour over pork and serve.
  9. Garnish with young ginger slivers, which are meant to be eaten.

The dish is named after revered Song Dynasty poet, artist and calligrapher Su Dongpo, who is supposed to have invented, or at least inspired it. The meat should be so tender that you can quite easily pry it away in small pieces with chopsticks. As it is made from a slab of pork belly, there is a lot of fat, but the lengthy cooking time (3-1/2 hours) results in fat sans much of its greasiness. Eat as little of the fat as you choose. The accompanying ginger and plainly cooked broccoli also help offset the fat. You will need at least four hours to make Dongpo pork during which time it is simmered twice, braised, sautéd and steamed. 

The leftover simmer water makes a good pork stock starter.

dōng pō ròu


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