The Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor (CHAA) is an organization of scholars, cooks, food writers, nutritionists, collectors, students, and others interested in the study of culinary history and gastronomy. They publish a quarterly, Repast, which is a treasure trove of information on culinary history. The Spring 2021 edition contained an article, ‘How Chao and Chiang Changed Chinese-American Cuisine.’

The article featured a recipe by Buwei Yang Chao who, in 1945 published her pioneering work, How to Cook and Eat in Chinese (New York, John Day Co.). The Book introduced refined and authentic Chinese food to American readers. It included a discussion of red-cooked meats, which are large pieces braised in soy sauce,. wine and spices.

I was unaware of red-cooked meat until I came across this gem.  As noted in the title, this one is a very plain dish, easy to prepare and renders a delightful meat entrée (in this case, pork) that served over steamed rice, is a definite winner.  Be aware that for this recipe, the only modification I made is that I used chicken broth instead of water in the ingredients. I also added chopped fresh scallions. Either way, you can prepare the recipe as is, or enhance it any way you see fit.  Tradition is great, but innovation (in some cases) ain’t so bad. Also, the recipe doesn’t say anything about servings. I would figure 3-4 pounds of pork is enough for 4-6 servings.

So add a touch of history to your cooking. It won’t disappoint, and will leave family and friends hankering for more.


For this type of Red-Cooked Meat, the order of preference of cuts should be fresh bacon, fresh shoulder, fresh ham, pork chop.

3-4 pounds pork                                                                 1 tsp. salt
1 cup water                                                                            4 slices ginger
3 Tbsp. sherry                                                                              (if you can get it)
½ cup soy sauce                                                                    ½ Tbsp. sugar

Wash meat, cut into 1- or 1½-inch cubes. Put meat and 1 cup water in a heavy pot and use big fire. When it boils, add sherry, soy sauce, salt and ginger. Cover pot tight and cook over very low fire for 1½ hours. (In case of pork chop, use only 1 hour here.) Then add sugar. Again, over low fire, cook ½ to 1 hour. Test meat (for doneness by inserting a fork or chopstick).