Braised Pork Belly with Sweet Preserved Mustard Vegetable (Mei Cai Kou Rou)
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: braised pork belly, mei cai kou rou, sweet mustard vegetable
Prep Time: 20minutes
Cook Time: 2hours50minutes
Total Time: 3hours10minutes
Author: Bee Leng | The Burning Kitchen
Braised Pork Belly with Sweet Preserved Mustard Vegetable (Mei Cai Kou Rou) is tender and succulent braised pork belly that's so soft it literally melts in your mouth, perfectly balanced by sweet crunchy pieces of sweet mustard vegetable. SO good!
Use a knife to scrape the skin of the pork belly to remove the scum. Next rub the skin with coarse salt to exfoliate it, then rinse thoroughly.
Soak the Mei Cai for about 20 minutes, wash thoroughly by opening up the leaves to remove any sand particles and squeeze dry. Cut into thin strips.
Scrape off the skin from the ginger with a knife. Then slice thinly and set aside.
Wash the spring onion, cut off the roots and set aside.
Rinse garlic with the skin on. Use the flat side of a chopper to smash it lightly, then set aside.
In a bowl, add all the 'Sauce' ingredients in (b) and mix well.
In a separate bowl, add all the 'Slurry' ingredients in (c) and mix well.
A. Blanch and Marinate the Pork Belly
Add all the ingredients in group (a) into a large wok, then add in the cleaned pork belly. Bring to a boil over high heat for about 20 mins.
Remove the pork belly, rinse it and then pat dry with a kitchen paper towel. Discard rest of the blanching mixture. Then use a fork or tooth pick to prick as many holes on the pork belly skin as possible, then pat dry.
Next, rub the dark soya sauce all over the pork belly (including the skin) and leave to marinate for about 20 mins. Then pat dry with a kitchen paper towel.
B. Fry the Pork Belly (Whole) and Mei Cai
Heat up the 100 ml of oil over medium high heat and carefully place the pork belly skin down. Fry for about 5 minutes, or until the skin turns golden brown.
Transfer it to a bowl of water to soak for 20 mins. Then drain, pat dry and cut into 1 cm-thick slices.
In a clean wok, heat up 2 TBsp of oil, then add in the smashed garlic and fry till aromatic. Next, add in the Mei Cai strips and fry for about 5 minutes until it is dry.
Next, add in the 'Sauce' mixture you prepared earlier, and let it simmer for another 10 mins over medium high heat.
C. Arrange and Steam the Dish
In a deep flat steaming dish, arrange the pork slices with the skin of the pork belly facing downwards.
Place the Mei Cai mixture on top of the pork belly slice, and press down gently with the back of a spoon.
Cover the bowl with a stainless steel plate, then cover the wok lid and steam for 2-2.5 hours over medium heat.
Once cooked, drain off the gravy into a bowl, then invert the steaming dish over a deep serving dish of a similar size or slightly larger, so the pork belly skin faces upwards when serving.
OPTIONAL: For a thicker sauce, heat up the gravy in a small pan over medium heat. Then give the cornstarch slurry a stir before adding into the gravy to allow it to thicken.
Pour the sauce over the dish and garnish with a piece of parsley. Serve hot with a bowl of hot steaming rice, congee, noodle or Chinese buns.
Use the sweet preserved mustard vegetable for this dish. There are 2 types of Mei Cai - one is sweet and the other is salty. So pick the right one!
Buy good quality Mei Cai as the inferior ones usually have lots of sand on them, and you will end up spending lots of time to get rid of all the sand.
Choose a good cut of pork belly.
Buy the pork on the day that you plan to cook this dish, as the texture of the pork after cooking will be really tender, succulent, and melt in your mouth. Frozen pork or pork that has been kept too long in the freezer will become dehydrated, and thus become dry after braising.
Get fresh Indonesian pork from the wet market whenever possible. Alternatively you can also get fresh Bulan pork at the butchery counters of some supermarket outlets of NTUC, Giant and Sheng Shiong.
Avoid buying frozen pork, or frozen pork that has been thawed (check the information on the packaging as it will indicate if the pork has been chilled (fresh) or thawed (frozen).
Ask the butcher to give you the thicker and leaner part of the pork belly which will be most ideal for this dish.
Soak and wash the Mei Cai before cooking. The vegetable is coated with salt which is used as a preservative. It also has to be washed several times to get rid of any sand particles.
Make sure the pork belly is thoroughly pat drybefore frying to prevent the oil from splattering. It is advisable to use a oil splatter screen to cover over the wok if you have one.
Use a steaming dish where the all pork slices can fit in snugly, with some allowance for the mei cai to be placed on top.
Ensure there is always sufficient water for steaming, otherwise top it up with boiling water from a kettle so the temperature does not drop.
Freeze the leftovers if you can since it is time consuming preparing this dish, it is good to cook more and keep it in the freezer. It would be better to divide the portion into separate bowls if you want to keep them for another time for re-steaming.
Make this dish ahead of time. In fact it is better to leave it overnight. The Mei Cai Kou Rou will tastes even better because the flavour has time to really seep into the pork.
1. Why do you blanch the pork belly?Blanching the pork belly with hot water helps to remove the scum, which gives off an unpleasant 'porky' smell. Adding ginger, spring onion and Chinese wine helps to further remove the porky smell. Always make sure you rinse off the scum from the pork after blanching, and then you give the pot a good rinse as well!
2. Why do you need to poke holes in the pork?
Poking holes in the pork helps to force out the water in the pork so it won't splatter during deep frying. It also increases the surface area to increase the ability of the pork skin to absorb the marinade.
3. Why must I soak the pork belly after deep frying?
After deep frying the pork belly, it is best to soak it in water for about 30 mins so that the skin will plump up which gives it a smooth, wobbly and spongy-like texture.