Chinese Red Cooking Hong Shao/Lu

I’m not really sure what the difference is between red cooking (紅燒)and lu (滷). I will defer to this article from the Woks of Life. My family called chicken cooked this way lu, and pork shoulder both hong shao and lu.

There are many recipes online for this. There are restaurants in China that are purportedly using a vat of sauce generations old. But the main idea is the same a pot of spiced soy sauce usually sweet that meat is slow cooked in. Everyone’s spice mix is a little different. There are premixed spice packets that can be purchased instead of putting in your own. I think I started adding cardamom is because I have a tendency to substitute pumpkin pie spice for five spice if I couldn’t find five spice so and decided I like the cardamom.

After the meat is cooked and imparts it’s flavor to the soy sauce, other things can be added, like shitake mushrooms, five spice dried tofu, tofu puffs, seaweed knots, hard boiled eggs, carrots, daikon radish, etc

Meat of your choice
Hard boiled eggs (peeled)
Dark soy sauce
Light soy sauce
Shao xing wine
Rock sugar

Cinnamon stick
Cardamom pod
Sichuan pepper corns
Chinese five spice
Star anise
Tangerine peel
Or you can just throw in a lu bao

滷菜香料(滷包)Spice Mix Powder Cinnamon fennel, Ginger, Cumin clove, for spiced food 8 sachets, (Pack of 3)
  1. Heat up a heavy pot add oil and a Chinese soup spoon of sugar.
  2. Wait for the sugar to caramelize. Keep an eye on the sugar, once the edges brown the rest changes very quickly.
  3. Brown the meat in the sugar oil mixture. You may have to do it in turns and replenish the oil and sugar as needed.
  4. Place all the meat back in the pot when all browned. Add dark soy sauce so 1/4 of the meat is covered. Add light soy sauce so the volume of liquid is doubled. Add about a 1/4 cup of shaoxing rice wine. Add water so the meat is completely covered.
  5. Add about a 1 – 2″ knob of ginger (smashed) and a bunch of scallions cut into 2″ sticks. Add all the other spices. Throw in a handful of rock sugar.
  6. Once the pot boils, reduce the heat and let simmer until the meat the is soft. If you are cooking chicken legs about an hour or two. If you are cooking a pork shoulder, at least 4 hours. Keep an eye on the pot so it doesn’t boil over or scorch.
  7. Once the meat is cooked take it out of the pot. Throw in whatever else you want to flavor with the sauce. Be careful when cooking veggies. They will soak up all the salt and become disgusting salty.

    The meat is good with noodle soup, over rice, in bao.

Save the sauce to serve with the meat and other goodies. Place the remainder in containers. The next time you want something red cooked. Brown the meat, then dump the sauce over the meat into other pot. You may need to refresh the seasoning. Add more liquid to cover the meat etc. The idea is that that flavor of the sauce will build up over time from all the things cooked with the sauce.


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