This Braised Instant Pot Pork Belly results in easy, tender, and delicious pork belly, and makes for an easy meal with lots of slow-cooked flavor.
First: The Limitations of an Instant Pot!
Many of you are probably familiar with the the classic Shanghai dish, Hong Shao Rou or Red Braised Pork Belly. This isn’t that recipe.
Because let me tell you a little secret about making Hong Shao Rou in an Instant Pot…it’s not really a good idea.
Now before you call me a Debbie Downer or an Instant Pot hater (I <3 my Instant Pot, trust me), the thing is, you can’t really pull off the same results in an Instant Pot, because the thing about some dishes is that they can’t be rushed!
In fact, I have the failure to prove it. Our Instant Pot Braised Pork Buns were a well meaning attempt to recreate my mother’s beloved Red Braised Pork Belly recipe in the king of all kitchen appliances. It was a failure on account of an overly long cooking time, but perfect for slathering between fluffy steamed lotus leaf buns.
On the other side of that experiment, I realized that Hong Shao Rou is best left out of the Instant Pot equation. We may continue experimenting in the background, and if we unlock the secret, we’ll let you know.
Take it from me, folks—until that day comes, I suggest this recipe: a simple Braised Instant Pot Pork Belly that’s made with a “master stock” or lushui (卤水).
What is a Master Stock, or lushui (卤水)?
A master stock is a sauce/stock mixture that is used and re-used to poach and braise meats, from chicken, to pork, to beef, and more.
We used a Master Stock in our Instant Pot Soy Sauce Chicken Bowls, and this recipe actually uses the same one. It results in tender pork belly with a thin sauce that’s delicious over rice.
For all of you out there who did the smart thing and squirreled away your Soy Sauce Chicken master stock/sauce in the freezer when you first made it a few months ago, this will be doubly easy!!!
Most master stocks begin with soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, and spices like star anise. As the meats are braised in the stock repeatedly, ingredients are replenished and added.
But different meats will take to the flavors of the master stock slightly differently. While braised chicken is delicious, there’s something about the rich, fatty Instant Pot pork belly that takes this idea to new heights.
Re-using Your Master Stock
After you make this recipe, reserve your master stock and transfer it to containers to freeze.
When you need to use it again:
- Let it thaw in the refrigerator
- Add it back to the instant pot
- Add an additional ½ cup Shaoxing wine, ½ cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup of dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of sugar to bring it back to the right flavor concentrations.
Pork Belly in an Instant Pot = A Speedy Dinner
A traditional braised meat dish using a master stock can take hours to cook. Doing it in an Instant Pot means preparing your meal in a fraction of the time.
This recipe takes about an hour from start to finish. You just pour the sauces all together in the Instant Pot, drop in the pork belly, press start, and walk away! Ain’t nothin’ better.
When your meal is almost done, or while the pressure is releasing from the instant pot, just cook up some rice and a veggie of your choice, and you have a complete meal.
The pork belly will be close to fall apart tender, and that pork skin? It’s the best part.
Let’s get into the recipe.
Soy Sauce Braised Instant Pot Pork Belly: The Recipe
Grab your Instant Pot. Turn on the sauté setting, and add the oil and ginger. Let it caramelize for about 30 seconds. Then add the scallions and cook another 30 seconds. Add the star anise, rice wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, salt, and water.
Close the lid of the instant pot, and make sure you have your vent set so it is not venting. Cook for 5 minutes on the high pressure setting.
Safely release pressure, open the lid when safe, and carefully lower the pork belly into the instant pot.
Cook the pork for 20 minutes on the high pressure setting. Allow the pressure to release naturally once the timer has gone off. Once safe to open, retrieve the pork belly, and cut into smaller chunks as desired.
Serve over rice with sauce spooned over the top, along with a stir-fried green veggie of your choice.
Let the braising liquid cool, and store it in containers in the freezer. When you need it again, let it thaw in the refrigerator and throw it back in the instant pot with an additional ½ cup Shaoxing wine, ½ cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup of dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of sugar to bring it back to the right flavor concentrations.