I always question my judgments when making this recipe… Like, why didn’t I make more?! Why do I always think this serving amount would be enough?! Braised pork belly is just melt-in-your-mouth goodness. It’s rich, savory, sweet, and has just a hint of warmth from the spices … that also warms my soul. PURE. MAGIC. The only thing I dread about braising pork is the agonizing hours of wait time until it’s finally done. SO, for all you impatient pork belly lovers, I’ve put together an Instant Pot pork belly recipe that cuts the time in half!. So you have less time waiting & more time popping these juicy gems in your mouth.
The first thing you’ll notice when cooking this is that it’s very aromatic. All the flavors in the Instant Pot begin to melt together to fill your home with a delicious savory fragrance. My husband, Josh, kept asking me what I was cooking and when it’ll be done because he was already drooling haha.
Luckily, this quick pork belly recipe includes only a few simple ingredients and when they’re combined, something magical happens in the pot. Then, POOF! Delicious, juicy, tender morsels of pork belly come out. I told you, it’s MAGIC.
Dark Soy Sauce vs Regular / Light Soy sauce
Both are equally essential to this braised pork belly. They both bring their own unique flavors and color to the dish that compliment each other so well.
- Dark Soy Sauce: Dark soy sauce is slightly thicker, sweeter, and doesn’t have as much salty flavor. In many dishes, including in this braised pork recipe, it’s used for its flavor, but more importantly for the color it gives the dish. It gives that deep rich color that regular or light soy sauce won’t.
- Regular or Light Soy Sauce: Regular or light soy sauce is much more popular and accessible. It gives a salty umami flavor, is lighter in color, and thinner is sauce. This type of soy sauce packs on salty flavor, while leaving only a tint of color on the food.
Blanching the Pork Belly
Doing a quick blanch helps remove all the impurities from the pork, such as blood and other grime that come from the muscles and bones. This simple step is required for a cleaner finished dish, without a cloudy glaze.
Simply place the cubes of pork belly into boiling water for 3 - 4 minutes, then scoop out any impurities that are released from the meat. Drain the pork and rinse under cold water before following the rest of this quick pork belly recipe.
Instant Pot Pork Belly for Juicy and Tender Meat
To get the fall apart, melt in your mouth pork, the meat needs to be braised and steamed to retain the juiciness. Typically, pork belly is cooked low and slow, such as on a simmer for an hour and a half. But, since I usually don’t want to wait that long for delicious pork belly in my mouth, I’ve decided to cut the time in half in this Instant Pot pork belly recipe! This method still retains the delectable juiciness through pressure cooking, while filling your tummy with braised pork much faster.
Let’s get cooking! Follow the simple recipe below and let me know how it goes in the comments. Happy cooking 🙂
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Instant Pot Red Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)
- 1 pound lean pork belly*
- 1 ½ tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoon Shaoxing wine*
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce*
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce*
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- ½ cup water
Blanch Pork Belly
- Cut pork belly into about 1-inch cubes. Make sure that every piece of lean meat is attached to some fat when cutting. This will help tenderize the meat while cooking.
- In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. There should be enough water to cover the pork. Add pork and boil for 3 - 4 minutes to get rid of impurities, then rinse under cold water. Drain and set aside.
Braise Pork Belly
- In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- Heat Instant Pot on Saute mode. Once it's hot, add about 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Add brown sugar and watch closely so it doesn’t begin to harden. Once the sugar starts to dissolve, add the pork and coat them well in the sugar.
- Add the sauce mixture, star anise, and bay leaves. Gently scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure none of the sugar is stuck to the bottom to prevent burning.
- Change Instant Pot mode to Pressure Cook on High. Cover with the lid sealed and cook for 40 minutes.
- Once the timer goes off, release the vent on the lid. Set Instant Pot to Saute mode and cook with the lid off until the sauce starts to turn into a thick glistening glaze, about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. Once it's the consistency you like, turn off Instant Pot and remove the pork belly. Serve them on a bed of steamy hot rice and enjoy!
- Lean Pork Belly: I typically buy my pork belly from the Asian market, but you can buy it at any local store if they have it available. Ideally, every piece of lean meat would have some fat attached to it; this will help tenderize the meat and keep it moist while cooking.
- Shaoxing Wine: This is a Chinese cooking rice wine that can be easily found at local Asian markets or Amazon.
- Regular Soy Sauce vs Dark Soy Sauce: Regular or light soy sauce adds saltiness to a dish and is the most commonly found type of soy sauce at grocery stores. Dark soy sauce has a slightly thicker consistency and is what gives the red pork belly its signature deep rich color. You can find dark soy sauce at local Asian markets or Amazon.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and provided for informational purposes. Nutrition may vary based on product availability, methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients, etc. For the most accurate nutritional information, use your preferred nutrition calculator, actual ingredients, and quantities used for the recipe. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian if more precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
My husband is from Hong Kong and our best friend is from Shanghai. I made this recipe tonight and both were AMAZED - said it tasted like their mum’s cooking. 5/5.
Hi Ness! Wow, that's the ultimate compliment to be compared to mom's cooking - thank you! SO glad all of you enjoyed it 🙂