Red-braised pork is a Hunanese dish that is inseparably bound up with the memory of Chairman Mao; many restaurants call it “The Mao Family’s red-braised pork”.

The people of Mao Zedong’s home village of Shaoshan actually recommend the dish as a “health food”. Mao’s nephew, Mao Anping, had this to say: “Men eat it to build their brains and ladies to make themselves more beautiful.”

To prevent imitations, official guidelines have been issued to restaurants across China instructing them how to cook Mao Tse-tung’s favorite meal. Restaurants which do not follow the correct procedures will not be allowed to title themselves as “authentically” Hunanese.

One of the least fiery dishes in the entirety of Hunan cuisine, the pork is cooked with sugar, cinnamon, chilis, and star anise. Vegetarian variations of the recipe utilizes garlic gloves, deep-fried bean curd, preserved mustard greens and water chestnuts as main ingredients.

This version is from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province.


  • 1 pound pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 piece cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Scallion greens, thinly sliced, for garnish

Learn to make Chairman Mao’s favorite dish.