Chinese Grocery Roast Pork

Martha Hall Foose

Adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook (Clarkson Potter, 2008)

"By the early twentieth century, the Mississippi Delta was home to a large community of Chinese Americans. As plantation commissaries began to close, more cash was circulated and the need grew for independent grocers. In 1920, the city of Greenville reportedly had 12 paved streets, 20 trains stopped there a day, and there were 50 Chinese grocery stores. Several families still run fourth- and fifth-generation groceries in tiny towns scattered across the Delta. Many versions of this red-tinged pork have been cooked on stoves in the back of family-run groceries in the area for years and years."

-Martha Hall Foose


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon greated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar, preferably red
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1 3-pound picnic shoulder of pork or Boston butt


Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

In a large Dutch oven or roasting pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, anise, cinnamon, and five-spice powder. Simmer for 1 minute. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat under the pan so that the mixture simmers.

Loosen the skin from the meat in several places, but do not remove it. Place the meat in the liquid, turning several times to coat it with the sauce. Transfer the pan to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes undisturbed, then baste with the cooking liquid and continue to baste every 20 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat is 185ºF, about 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

Remove the pork to a cutting board or serving platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice thinly and pour the pan juices over the meat, removing the star anise and cinnamon.


6 servings