Red cooking

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Red-cooked pork belly served with thickened braising sauce

Red cooking, also called Chinese stewing, red stewing, red braising and flavour potting, is a slow braising Chinese cooking technique that imparts a red colour to the prepared food.

There are two types of red cooking:

Red cooking is popular throughout most of northern, eastern, and southeastern China. The name is derived from the dark red-brown colour of the cooked items and its sauce.


Soy sauce (usually a mix of light and dark soy sauce), fermented bean paste, red fermented tofu or caramelised sugar is commonly used to give an appetising reddish brown hue and flavour to the items being cooked. Food coloring is sometimes added for a more intense red. Both lu and hongshao are forms of stewing or braising and are characterised by the use of soy sauce, Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing wine, huangjiu etc.) and caramelised sugar. Whole spices (star anise, black cardamom (caoguo), cassia, and/or fennel seeds) or five-spice powder are crucial elements in these dishes but are used in moderation so that their flavours do not overwhelm the main ingredients.

Red-cooked stews may be heavy in meat content or contain a variety of meats, vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs. Such dishes may be served hot or cold, and the sauce or stock is often re-used as master stock.

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