The last couple of days was terribly busy with prepping for Lunar New Year. Joe asked me a question, “Do you preferred Christmas or Chinese New Year?” Despite both festive seasons has been the most important season for us, undeniable Chinese New Year is more tiring. Unlike Christmas being straightforward, returning gratefulness to our love ones and enjoying the magic of all the time, Chinese New Year is all about traditions. There are so much customs to follow and to practice. As a Cantonese and Teochew Family, we have a lot of thoughts in our meals – it’s a thought of love and respect to everyone we treasure.
Steamed Pork Belly with preserved Mustard Green is also known as Mei Cai Kou Rou, 梅菜扣肉. It’s love by Hakka, Cantonese and Teochew Family, we remember that our mom always will prepare a super huge pot of Steamed Pork Belly with preserved Mustard Green and served us hot porridge or noodle to enjoy the amazing savoury. And it can last us for at least 2 days, but usually, it is too delicious we finish instantly.
What is Meigan cai, 梅干菜 ?
Mei Gan Cai, 梅干菜 widely known as “molded dried vegetable”; or Mei Cai, Mui Choy (Cantonese dialect). It is a type of dry pickled Chinese mustard. The pickle consists of a whole head of various varieties of Chinese mustards and cabbages (芥菜 (leaf mustard), 油菜 (rape), 白菜 (Chinese cabbage) that has undergone an elaborate process consisting of drying, steaming, and salting. The vegetables are harvested, trimmed before the early April, and sun-dried until limp. It is then salted or brined, kneaded until the juices are exuded, and left to ferment in large clay urns for 15 to 20 days. The vegetable is then repeatedly steamed and dried until reddish-brown in colour and highly fragrant.
How to prepare Mei Gan Cai 梅干菜?
As there is a lot sand in the 梅干菜 you need to soften it and wash thoroughly before cooking if not you will destroy the dishes. Prepare dried preserved mustard greens. Soak for 5-6 hours. Then wash them in a large basin of water 6 -7 times to get rid of all sand and dirt. Drain and set aside.
Important steps for Pork Belly
Removing the raw pork taste on the meat; Put the pork belly in a pot, and cover with cold water. Add the ginger slices and star anise. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 35 minutes. Take the pork out and set aside.
Adding colour to your pork; Heat a tablespoon of oil in the wok over medium heat. Brown the pork on the skin side first, and then the other sides.
Cool before slice; Like the beef cooling the meat allow the moisture to be absorbed well before slicing. Slicing it right away you will lose the moisture that you need.
Time to cook them; Many families will choose the method of “braising it” but we preferred steaming the meat. Unlike the meat might be overcooked, the steaming method allows the meat to remain whole but soft and tender. Cover the Pork Belly with the Mei Cai – this step is important.
It allows the sauce infused into the meat. The Mei Cai layer insulates food, slowing down cooking and allowing foods to cook evenly. Like the salt-baking method, it is ideal for foods that are easily overlooked, such as fish, or beef tenderloin. The Mei Cai traps moisture within the food so that it cooks in its own juices (similar to sous vide), retaining more flavour.
Put the bowl in a steamer and steam for 75 minutes.
Get ready your bowl of rice and enjoy this unstoppable dish! This dish will be the unbeatable dish to serve during the festive season! You do not need a lot of ingredients but you could make the most wonderful dishes for your family! Happy Lunar New Year, season greetings to you all from the Leong’s family!
xoxo, The Leong’s Sister
Braised Pork Belly with preserved Mustard Green | 梅菜扣肉
400g dried preserved mustard greens (about 3 cups after they’re soaked and thoroughly washed)
600g pork belly
2 slices ginger
2 star anise
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (plus 1 tablespoon, divided)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or rock sugar)
1 teaspoon ginger (minced)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Prepare preserved greens. Soak for 5-6 hours. Then wash them in a large basin of water 6-7 times to get rid of all sand and dirt. Drain and set aside.
- Put the pork belly in a pot, and cover with cold water. Add the ginger slices and star anise. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 35 minutes. Take the pork out and set aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in the wok over medium heat. Brown the pork skin side first, followed by the other sides. Once browned, add a teaspoon of dark soy sauce and a tablespoon water, and carefully coat the pork in the liquid. Turn off the heat and let the pork cool in the wok.
- Carefully slice the pork into ½-inch slices, and arrange them neatly in the bottom of a shallow heat-proof bowl. In the wok, add another tablespoon of oil and the sugar. Cook the sugar until it melts and turns a caramel color. Add the minced ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the preserved vegetables, and stir for a couple of minutes. Add a tablespoon of dark soy sauce, 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine and 1 cup chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
- Spoon the preserved vegetable mixture over the pork belly in the bowl and spread evenly to cover all the pork. Put the bowl in a steamer and steam for 75 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the steamer and carefully pour off any excess liquid into your wok (you’ll use this liquid to make the sauce). Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer, and add the cornstarch to thicken it. Cover the bowl of pork with your serving plate and flip it over onto the plate. Pour the sauce over the dish and serve. This dish is glorious with a bowl of white rice!