Some of my most delicious childhood food memories are linked with Shanghai. Growing up in Hong Kong, my family had a lot of Shanghainese friends with whom we would often feast on amazing meals from their region. I have such a soft spot for Shanghainese style cuisine. The food is all about slow cooking, seasonal and fresh ingredients braised in rice wine, vinegar, soy sauces and a large variety of spices. We would go to restaurants called ‘associations’ where you can eat the most authentic regional cuisine. They were originally intended for homesick locals to rejoice on their provincial food after settling in Hong Kong. Today, these restaurants have become a must for food lovers. I would particularly enjoy the Kiangsu Chekiang and Shanghai residents association restaurant, as well as the Ningbo resident’s association – those sautéed prawns in wine, tofu soup with cured ham, steamed hairy crabs with rice wine vinegar, drunken chicken. Just don’t get me started, I could go on forever. As a matter of fact, I occasionally find myself in a ‘day-dreaming’ state, imagining the dishes I will order as soon as I have a chance. Food memories embedded in my palate forever.
This slow-cooked braised pork is a family-style dish, filled with amazing flavours like star anise, cinnamon and fennel seeds. The rich dark soya sauce and shaoxing wine thickens while the sugar caramelizes. This kind of cuisine is called hong shao, in other words ‘red cooking’. The deep mahogany colours shine through the meat and sauce, producing a true culinary delight. If you are new to Chinese cooking, perhaps this could be a good way to start.
We had such a lovely lunch last Friday, the sun was shining after the torrential rain, the kitchen smelt like a thousand spices. I served this dish with freshly steamed white rice, tea eggs and fava bean fritters (to be dipped in the pork sauce). I was inspired by an appetizer I loved, fava bean terrine with sesame oil. Have you ever tried tea eggs? I loved having them as a snack after school. Memories of buying one or two eggs, sold by the lady at the local tuck shop in my old neighbourhood, Happy Valley. They are so wholesome and deeply nutritious, the taste is nearly addictive. They are first boiled, then slow-cooked in a mixture of tea, star anise, soya sauce, cinnamon. The rich colours and mesmerizing smells invade the kitchen, bringing me back to my schoolgirl days. There was always a daily soup brewing in my home, always filled with a special ingredients, something to enhance your health. Goji berries, bird nest, ginseng with chicken in winter. Food was all about prevention and good health.
Red braised pork with spices:
1 kg/ approx. 2 pounds pork hock or pork belly (if you are using pork belly, chop into brownie-sized squares)
5 star anise
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 cinnamon stick
1 slice orange peel
10 slices of fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
A handful of chopped scallions
For the sauce:
4 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
240 ml/ 1 cup shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine – you can use dry sherry as a substitute)
Blanch the pork in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Skim off scum from surface. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Set aside.
In a pan or wok, melt the sugar with 1 tbsp water on a medium heat. When it starts to turn slightly golden, add the pork coating it all over. Immediately set aside with all the syrupy sauce.
In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the ginger, shallot and garlic for a minute. Add all the other spices, orange peel and stir until the fragrances are released. Add the sesame oil, stir for 30 seconds. Add the dark, light soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, continue stirring for 1 minute. Add the shaoxing wine and reduce for 1 minute. Add the pork along with all its juices and syrup. Pour enough water to cover the pork, bring to a boil and cover. Simmer on a low heat for 3 hours, or until the meat is so tender it falls apart. Before serving, remove the pork and spices from the pot and set aside. Turn the heat up on high for about a minute or two to reduce the sauce (or a bit longer if necessary). It should become thick and glossy. Return pork and spices to the pot and serve immediately.
Drizzle the pork with finely chopped scallions and serve with freshly steamed white rice.
Fava bean fritters
450 g/ 2 1/2 cups fava beans (fresh, frozen or tinned)
70 g/ 1/2 cup finely chopped spring onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
3 tbsp sesame oil
2-3 tbsp water
Frying oil (for deep-frying)
Remove shells from fava beans, rinse and drain. In a food processor, mix the beans, spring onion, garlic, salt, pepper water and sesame oil.
Shape small patties, about one large tbsp of mixture at a time. In a medium-sized pan, heat oil (approx 1 inch high). You can test if the oil is ready by throwing in a small piece of bread – it should sizzle and turn golden within 45 seconds. Fry patties by batches (about 4 each time) for 3 minutes (or until they become golden brown). Drain on kitchen towel before serving. Drizzle with chopped scallions.
6-8 eggs (up to 12 if you wish)
2 tbsp black tea leaves
120 ml/ 1/2 cup soya sauce
2 star anise
2 pieces of dried orange peel (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp brown sugar
Put the eggs into a pot of cold water and boil for 10-12 minutes on a medium heat. Drain the eggs, soak them in cold water, and gently tap on all sides of the eggs with the back of a spoon. You want to crack them gently, so be careful not to tap too hard. This technique will alow the tea mixture to create the marble effect on the eggs as well as flavouring them.
In a pot add 950 ml/ 4 cups of water and all the recipe ingredients, including the cracked eggs. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low and leave to simmer for 3 hours. Leave to cool in the tea mixture. You can let them soak in the mixture overnight to get more intensity in the flavours if you wish.
46 thoughts on “Hong shao pork, fava bean fritters & tea eggs”
YES !!!!!!! génial cette idée de recette, j’adore la cuisine chinoise !!
Coucou Sandrine! Tu dois absolument essayer les oeufs au thé! Mimix
Those tea eggs look so pretty! But that pork dish looks like it would be amazing with some fried rice…the pics are just so lovely..
I love the Asian flavors that you have going on in this post! Thank you for talking more about tea eggs. I have been seeing them in a few photos but didn’t really understand what they were. Thanks for taking the guesswork out of making them!
Thank you Amber! This meal is a real trip fown memory lane – some days I just need this kind of food. Tea eggs are so beautiful to look at – it’s a natural wrk of art! Bonne journée, Mimix
Oh my goodness – those eggs are just gorgeous! What a perfect after school snack! I have never cooked eggs for that long. Does the tea penetrate to the yolk and prevent them from becoming dry? This is a must try for us, as my kids are boiled egg fanatics. Thanks for sharing!
Hello Rebecca! Those eggs are truly wonderful – my kids love them and always ask for more! My son calls them spider man eggs. I miss all those childhood days snacks – when I think back they were all so healthy. I would eat corn on the cob, baked sweet potatoes, tea eggs… By the way thanks for those interesting posts on your facebook page – I hope your daughter is feeling better from the allergies. Mimix
Ah, yes – Spiderman eggs! My son’s really into spiderman now, too. He’s going to freak out when he sees the eggs 🙂
Sounds divine! And I love, love these words: “There was always a daily soup brewing in my home, always filled with a special ingredients, something to enhance your health. Goji berries, bird nest, ginseng with chicken in winter. Food was all about prevention and good health.”
…as well as your gorgeous orchids! Thanks for sharing such a delicious post!
Please do go on forever, what an incredible post.
It’s funny how small the world is… I am living in the US since I was 17 while my family is still in Macau… the post makes me a bit homesick… especially the lunar new year is coming up… I miss tea eggs…
thanks for sharing.
Cheers from San Francisco, CA
Bonsoir Daisy! I can understand the homesickness. Whenever I feel nostalgic, there is nothing more soothing that a heartwarming homecooked meal, something straight from the past. It works! Mimix
You can certainly find them in San Francisco. There is, after all, a HUGE Chinatown.
Those eggs look amazing. I must try these. Thanks so much for the recipe.
It looks wonderful!! loved the pork and bean fritters, which remind me a bit of falafels. I also loved the tableware (or the dishes) and the pics were amazing! thanks for sharing 🙂
Encore une recette que j’essairai sans aucun doute!
Mais, je voudrais vous proposer de partager avec nous le menu pour le Nouvel An chinois ( si vous la fêtez, bien sûr) comme vous l’avez fait pour les fêtes de la fin d’année.
J’aimerais aussi féliciter vous et votre mari parce votre blog a été présenté à MARTHA STEWART LIVING!
There is nothing that conjures up traveling for me, more than slow cooked, sticky pork with rich dark flavours. This recipe looks gorgeous, thank you for sharing it.
I live in Shanghai and eat and cook Shanghainese and Hunan style food every day. Thank you for the beautiful presentation. I am inspired – pretty tastes better!
hello! what a beautiful post this is. i am new to Chinese cooking so i’m excited to give it a try, possibly this weekend. also i was wondering if you had any cookbook recommendations as i’m not quite sure where to begin with my new culinary adventures. thanks for sharing this one for starting! 🙂
I would highly recommend this book by Yan Kit So, which taught me many basic techniques, ranging from simple homestyle cooking to more elaborate dishes:
And I always enjoy Fuchsia Dunlop’s intelligent writing, both on her blog and in her books. This is her latest book, with easy to follow recipes and, importantly, suggested substitutions for hard to find ingredients:
thank you so much! 🙂 these look fantastic.
Hi again, Mimi! What a gorgeous post… Tsa yeh dan are one of my favorite treats and remind me of my childhood growing up in Taiwan. I see them now and again here in Hong Kong. I got a hankering a while back for nio rou tang mien and found a few recipes online including a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame (not pure Taiwanese-authentic, but still delicious, and a good recipe for reference when paired with the other more pure Taiwanese versions) that helped . I am excited to try this whole menu; looks spectacular!
I have been doing a lot of reading about Chinese cooking lately, these recipes sound fantastic.
Love the serving dishes, I used an artisan Black glass platter on Sunday as part of our lunch, what a difference it made!
Now you are talking! Chinese food. I love it, and go regularly to a small restaurant in my neighbourhood. The owner family are friends of ours, and they make the most delicious dishes. I simply must have some once per week, at least. They are teaching me a bit of Chinese,as well. Double bonus!
I grew up in HK too and I looove tea eggs. It’s been far too long since I had any, will have to try your recipe. You’ve inspired me to attempt to make some of my childhood favorites!
Thanks for another beautiful post, Mimi. This is real comfort food for me, I love red-braised dishes. Nice to see recipes for Chinese food that don’t require stir frying, too!
Wonderful Mimi… This looks like it’s possible and not too intimidating to make… Can’t wait to try… Thank you… xv
Hi again, Mimi – I made the pork last night and the flavours were amazing, but the recipe doesn’t say how much sugar to melt with the water (to coat the pork). Perhaps you forgot to mention?? Made a guess and it turned out delicious anyway. Thanks for the great recipe! ~Rebecca
Hi Rebecca! Thank you so much for pointing the sugar out in the ingredients list. It’s about 4 tbsp of granulated sugar. Glad you enjoyed the recipe:) Mimix
Mimi, the carrot cake was so, so good! Really easy to make and it is light and just sweet enough. My family loved it!! We’ve just finished the last crumbs and I’m already planing to make it again for next Wednesday when my Ukrainian friend coming to my place for me to show her how to make Shanghainese dumplings for the Lunar new year, so we can have tea before cooking 😉
Wow that sounds great Irina! You have such a savvy cook:) Shanghainese dumplings souns heavenly! I love the whole process of preparing the dumplings and have good memories of being surrounded by all my relatives in the kitchen – a little Chinese new year tradition! So glad to hear you enjoye dthe carrot cake – healthy and yummy:) Bonne journée! Mimix
Same memories for me, family sitting around the kitchen table making Russian pelmeni 🙂
I am in love with your blog,everything is beautiful and real. I am constantly looking for vegetarian recipes as my husband stoped eating meat. Please share more of your recipes that I could try ! Thank you!
This all looks delicious! The tea eggs are gorgeous! I will try the pork one of these days and let you know how it goes. I remember preparing a similar dish with my brother once when my family was on vacation. We divided into 2 teams and did a cook-off every night! My brother and I won on the night we made our pork dish 🙂 Thanks for all your beautiful posts! I want to eat every one!
The blue and white plates are gorgeous. Are these part of your vintage plate collection as well? I am literally making the tea eggs from your recipe now!
I must say this is indeed a very small world as Happy Valley is where I am living now. Which street were you living in the old days? Sadly the area is less charming nowadays as a lot of lovely old houses have been demolished!
I found your blog via Pinterest today, and I had to tell you how awestruck I am by your beautiful photography. I’d never heard of tea eggs before, the interior of the shells are so beautiful from the staining. Keep up the great posts, you have a devoted reader from here on out.
What a nice blog! Je suis étudiante chinoise et je fais mes études à Paris. ça me plaît beaucoup de voir le pied de cochon hong shao et les oeufs au thé ici : P
Ningbo resident association! It has been ages since I’ve been back but their sautéed prawns are delicious!
Will try you recipe for the pork – it looks great.