Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hakka Simmered Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Green / (客家梅菜焖猪肉)

This is one of my maternal Grandma's favorite dish that she always cook for us. She's Hakka, Hor Por Clan (河婆客家) and she's one real traditional cook! I always have fond memories over this traditional 梅菜焖猪肉 Hakka Simmered Pork Belly with Mui Choy (a.k.a Preserved Mustard Green) dish.

In Hakka dishes, there are 3 elements - Salty, Fatty, and most importantly, Fragrant. 

When I was small, due to my parents working schedule, I grew up under my maternal Grandma's care. I was heavily inspired by my grandma's simplicity in life. My grandma's dishes isn't fancy. They are classic, traditional, very flavorful, and surprisingly, no one ever complaint about her repeating same dishes even if it is quite often. I can talk about my grandma's dishes for 3 days 3 nights and I'm not sick about it. That's how close we are to each other. 

We grew up eating this. So, my mom could whip up this dish very well too. Before I replicate this dish at home, I called mom to confirm certain details to ensure I didn't screw this dish up. I'm cooking this for my Mother-In-Law who's a big fan of Mui Choy (a.k.a Preserved Mustard Green).

This dish involves two types of Mui Choy. Sweet Mui Choy (甜梅菜) and Salted Mui Choy (咸梅菜). Don't ask me if you can use only Sweet Mui Choy or only Salted Mui Choy. This dish needs both Salted and Sweet Mui Choy combined together to achieve the right balanced taste.

My mom says, this dish can go with or without Ginger. For usual day to day cooking, ginger can be skipped. This version, ginger is added and hence, this dish is suitable for confinement mums as part of the confinement menu. If you are ginger haters, skip the ginger. Simple as that.

(Source: My late Grandma Mdm. Chong and My mother - Mdm Chai)
  • 400g Pork Belly, with skin (五花肉, 连皮)
  • 100g Sweet Mui Choy (甜梅菜)
  • 150g Salted Mui Choy (咸梅菜)
  • 3 tbsp Pork Lard with Lard Bits (猪油 + 猪油渣)
  • 4 to 5 slices Ginger, julienned (姜)
  • 7 to 8 cloves Garlic, slice half, leave the other half whole (蒜头)
  • 400ml Water (水)
  • ½ tbsp Oyster Sauce (蚝油) *See Note
  • 1½ tbsp Soy Sauce (酱油)
  • ½ tsp Pepper (胡椒粉)
  • ½ tsp Sesame Oil (麻油)
  • 15g Rock Sugar (冰糖)
Note : 
My grandma didn't use Oyster Sauce when she cook this dish. My mom improvised this dish to make it even tastier by adding half a tbsp of Oyster Sauce at later days.

Life was so much simpler during childhood times where we only have very little condiments. Pigs were locally farmed, and pigs are fed with grains that is almost organic. Meat taste more porky and delicious too. So, it's the change in society that makes recipe change? I'm not sure, but I think it's not difficult to understand :)

  • Heat up wok WITHOUT any oil. Add in chopped Mui Choy, julienned ginger, and whole cloves garlic. Stir fry in medium heat until you can smell the Mui Choy aroma, and it looked dry. Dish up and set aside.
  • With the same wok, heat up 3 tbsp Pork Lard with Lard Bits.When you can smell the pork lard, add in sliced garlic, garlic cloves from the Mui Choy and fry till fragrant and garlic looked slightly yellow. 
  • Add in pork pieces, increase the heat slightly, stir fry the pork for awhile until the pork set its shape and almost cooked.
  • Add in Mui Choy and Rock Sugar. Fry for awhile, add water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, pepper and sesame oil. Stir well and bring to a boil. 
  • Under low heat, let it simmer for 20 to 25mins and the dish is ready. After simmering for 20mins the sauce for this dish remain minimum. Refer to photos below. 
  • For tastier result, cook this dish a day in advance. (Read on)

Two important point that I need you to take note while you prepare this dish.

One - Both Sweet and Salted Mui Choy must be washed, separately soaked with water for 20mins to reduce saltiness, rinse again, squeeze dry, and then cut them finely. Refer to photos below.

Two - This is traditional dish. My grandma uses Pork Lard. I follow. Never fear of eating Pork Lard. They are natural oil. Do prepare some at home, put it in the container and store it in the fridge. I always separate my Pork Lard and Crispy Lard Bits separately. But if you really don't have time to render your own Pork Lard, then too bad for you. You may use good quality Peanut Oil tho. But to be honest, sometimes Pork Lard's aroma is irreplaceable. Haha...

Prepare everything before you heat the wok. General Rule... 

Dry frying Mui Choy with ginger and garlic cloves is to bring out the Mui Choy flavor and remove some unwanted preserved smell on the Mui Choy.

By looking at these pictures, I'm sure this is quite clear on how this dish is cooked.

Look at above photo, 400ml water, simmered for 20mins and these are the leftover sauce for this dish. Never waste a drip of these goodness. This sauce makes you eat another bowl of rice. 

Usually, I cook this portion, half portion eat fresh, and keep the remaining half for tomorrow. This dish keeps well for upto 3 days in the fridge, and probably 12 days in the freezer. And I swear that it taste so so so soooo much better on the next day.

I refused to let tradition dies off. I probably will hate myself if I don't jot down this recipe and share with everyone. Sometimes, such simple dish is the only thing that make your family member come home early for you. Like if you agree! :)

P/s. My Mother-In-Law ate alot of rice because of this dish. Haha...

I would also suggest you to take a look at my another two Hakka Style Braised Pork Belly dishes

1 comment:

  1. Annie, I am with you on the pork fat. I am not afraid of it, in fact I embrace it hah..hah... But how long can you keep the rendered fat in the fridge? I wonder if we can make more in advance and store it. This simmered pork belly dish of yours really make me hungry and I must go look for the mui choy when I do my grocery shopping.