Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mei Cai Kou Rou 梅菜扣肉 (Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens)

On Saturday, we headed downtown for dim sum at a restaurant one of my friends suggested. The dim sum was very good, almost on par with my favorite dim sum place in the city. We had har gau (蝦餃), siew mai (烧卖), cheong fun (肠粉), ho yi fun (荷葉飯), char siew bao (叉烧包), feng zao (鳯爪) and lo bak gou (蘿蔔糕) - more than enough food for the both of us.

Anyway, check out some of my dim sum recipes:

Back to the story... After having dim sum, we headed to CMart, which is a Chinese supermarket. One of the first items I saw was mei cai (梅菜), which is preserved salted mustard greens. Mei cai is good for many things like steamed fish and soups, but the best thing it is good for is definitely mei cai kou rou (梅菜扣肉) - hands down! The dish is made with preserved mustard greens and pork belly, and steamed so that the flavor of the pork fat and preserved mustard greens fuse together, forming a sweet and salty concoction.

Note: This is the first time I bought pork belly in my entire life. I've had it before, and it is absolutely delicious and worth all the fat, but I can never bring myself to buy it. I ration my bacon consumption to one 1lb packet of bacon a year - yes, one entire year! So, the fact that I specially bought pork belly for this dish already signifies how delicious this dish is.

I made some mei cai kou rou bao 梅菜扣肉包 with a portion of this dish too! Check out that recipe here!

  • 1 packet mei cai (14 oz or 400 grams)
  • 1 lb pork belly (use pork sirloin steak if pork belly is too fatty for your tastes)
  • 5 cloves garlic
Ingredients for Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cooking wine

this is mei cai ( 梅菜)
  • Remove the mei cai from the packaging, and rinse with cold water to remove any sand particles. 
  • Rinse the mei cai until no more sand particles are left.
  • Soak the mei cai in tap water for at least 45 minutes to remove most of the salt. 
  • Taste a little bit of the vegetable. If it is too salty, soak it until it is no longer as salty.
  • Cut the stems of the mei cai to 1/2" sections and leaves to 1" sections.
This is mei cai after it has been soaked and cut.

  • Mix the ingredients of the marinade in a small bowl.
  • Pour the marinade over the pork belly and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  • After 30 minutes, remove the pork belly from the marinade and pat dry. Keep the marinade for future use.
  • In a hot pan, place the pork belly skin side on the pan. Do not use oil. The pork belly is fatty and the fat will melt when placed in the pan.
  • Brown all sides of the pork belly, then remove the pork belly from heat and let cool.

  • When the pork belly is cool, slice the pork belly into 1/2" x 2" slices, and lay the slices on the bottom of a steaming bowl. (My bowl was small, so I used two bowls.)
  • Add the prepared mei cai on top of the pork belly, and pour the remaining pork marinade into the steaming bowl.

This is what my two steaming bowls of mei cai kou rou looks like.

So proud of my little steaming contraption.

  • Place the steaming bowl into the steamer and steam for one hour.
  • (I made a steaming contraption by placing bamboo skewers on the bottom of my stock pot, then placing a steaming bowl on top of the skewers, and placing more skewers on top of the steaming bowl, then finally balancing another steaming bowl on top of the skewers. It sounds really complicated, but it isn't. More importantly, it works!)

In the steamer, waiting to be steamed.

  • After an hour, remove the steaming bowls.
  • Overturn the steaming bowl on a plate.
  • Serve.

It looks quite pretty doesn't it?

One bite!

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