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Related Ingredients

Tasting Notes

As this pork braises, your kitchen will be filled with the heady perfumes of five-spice powder, star anise, black cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

These classic Asian seasonings flavor the intense braising liquid that infuses the pork. Fish sauce and soy sauce add salt and umami, while rock sugar balances the saltiness. Lightly sautéed onions soften the braising liquid with their sweet but acidic bite. While the braising liquid tastes too strong on its own, it adds the ideal amount of flavor to the pork. The final product is perfectly balanced.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Prepare your pork. Cut off any sinew or tough, fibrous tissue on the outside of the pork before you braise it. The sinew will keep that part of the meat from absorbing the flavors of the braising liquid.
  2. Steeped in flavor. When the pork comes off the heat, allow it to cool in its braising liquid. It will continue to absorb the flavors from the braising liquid as it cools.
  3. The time-saving quick braise. This braising liquid is intensely flavored enough to infuse the pork with flavor while it is quickly cooked through. However, the pork is cooked before all the fibrous muscles are broken down (as they would be in a longer, slower braise). To avoid overly chewy pieces of meat, thinly slice the cooked pork across the grain of the meat, cutting through any tough fibers.


These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Skimmer. A long-handled skimmer looks like a wire-mesh strainer, but the size of its mesh-lined scoop is about the size of a soup ladle. It is used to skim off the fat from the surface of a broth or sauce as you are cooking.
The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.
Large pot
Small sheet pan with rack
Large spoon
Cutting board

  • One 3-inch piece Chinese cinnamon
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 whole cho guor, whole black cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 pound lean pork butt, cut in fourths
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 2-ounce piece fresh ginger, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 8 ounces rock sugar or light brown sugar
  • Water

Serves: 4

Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Active Time: 30 minutes

  1. In a dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast the cinnamon, star anise, black cardamom and cloves until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds. Set spices aside.
  2. Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add grapeseed oil and sear pork. Once all sides of pork are browned, transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same pan, add onions and ginger. Add soy sauce, five-spice powder and brown sugar.
  4. Place caramelized pork and reserved toasted spices into cooking liquid. Add enough water to the liquid so that the pork meat is just covered, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove pot from heat and and let pork cool in liquid for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove pork and place on a rack over a small sheet pan and let cool completely before slicing.
  6. Thinly slice pork for soup.
  7. Skim any scum (fat?) off the lo soi, strain, discarding solids. This liquid is not for wonton soup broth, it is only for cooking the pork. If you would like to use this liquid for future use, make sure it was brought to a boil before storing in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Before you use it again, bring it up to a boil.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Pork spring rolls with spicy mayo & Thai vinaigrette

Wrap cooked rice noodles with julienned carrots, peppers and pineapple and sliced pork in spring roll wrappers. Serve with spicy mayo and Thai vinaigrette