Very early readers may remember that I was a professional figure skater in my early life. (Lon too! I swear. Isn’t that crazy?) In my early 20s, I joined a hip-hop and breaking crew. My 30s seem to be shaping into my partner dancing era. I am in love with Argentine Tango and I also enjoy some salsa, bachata, cha and cha, and hustle. Just last night, I went to a workshop for BachaTango and it was wild! You dance on the count for Bachata with Tango moves thrown in. In the beginning, it was a little bit of a mind game for me not to switch to one or the other but once I got the hang of it, it was super fun. It seems to be growing in popularity in Europe and I hope I see more of it here.

BachaTango reminded me of this lovely Red-Cooked Pork Belly and Baby Cuttlefish dish because it fuses two elements, a surf & turf of Chinese sorts. Red-Cooking is a classic Chinese cooking method. In a very basic sense, it’s a sauce base of soy sauce and rock candy. How can that go wrong, right? Nearly anything can be red-cooked if you ask a Chinese person. We’ve done a Red-Cooked Picnic Shoulder in the past, a traditional dish called Tee Pong, and we’ve even done a Red-Braised Pork Belly on FoodMayhem. Don’t be surprised if you see more in the future! Here, we’re Red-Cooking rich little chunks of pork belly with plump baby cuttlefish. Double the textures, double the fun!

Red-Cooked Pork Belly & Cuttlefish 3

The sweet sauce is total comfort food, as if pork belly wasn’t already. The tender meat is rimmed with the skin that gets a little more gelatinous from the braising. The baby cuttlefish adds some chew and bounce. Over rice with some veggies (I used pickled mustard greens in the picture), it’s the perfect lunch.

Shopping Note

Unfortunately, cuttlefish is an under-utilized ingredient in the US and can be somewhat challenging to find. If you’ve never had it, you can think of it as meatier baby squid. Look for it in the frozen sections of Chinese supermarkets. I’ve actually never seen it fresh.  The up-side is that it’s already cleaned and ready to use. Defrost the baby cuttlefish by running it under cold water for 20 to 30 minutes.

Red-Cooked Pork Belly and Baby Cuttlefish
~4 servings

  • 1 pound pork belly (1/2″ to 3/4″ thick slabs)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 oz rock candy
  • 1/4 cup rice wine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 scallions, cut into 2″ segments
  • 1/2 oz piece of ginger, peeled and smashed
  • 1 (12oz package) frozen cleaned baby cuttlefish, defrosted
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • serve over rice

Instructions –

1. Cut pork belly into 1″ segments. Set aside.

pork belly 2

2.Heat oil in a 4 QT pot on medium heat. Make sure the oil is hot before adding the pork belly. Brown by turning occasionally, only flipping when the meat releases itself from the pan. Don’t scrape. This will take about 5 minutes.

3. Add rock candy and stir, allowing the rock candy to melt and coat the pork, about 2 minutes.

4. Add rice wine and stir. Add soy sauce, scallion, and ginger. Stir and cover. Turn heat down to low and allowing the pork to simmer for 30 minutes. Flip meat once in the middle to make sure the other side is soaked in sauce.

5. While the pork is cooking, bring a pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Blanche the cuttlefish and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

6. When pork is done, add cuttlefish and garlic. Turn heat up to medium high and toss until the cuttlefish is well coated in sauce, about a minute. Serve over rice. (Pictured here with Swan Tsai, aka pickled mustard greens.)

Red-Cooked Pork Belly & Cuttlefish 8

*The pork will keep and reheat well but the cuttlefish is best finished the first time around. This is never a problem for us since Caya devours all the cuttlefish.

posted by jessica at 10:41 PM Filed under Chinese, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.