Indeed, rice or porridge is essential to go with this dish because the taste is rich and salty.
Different households have their own methods of preparing and cooking this dish. Some used a combination of sweet and salted mui choy (preserved mustard green); some just stuck to one type. Some used the steaming method whereas some used the braising method.
It's important to remove the leaves from the mui choy stems, piece by piece and wash thoroughly with water to get rid of excessive salt and sand. Thereafter, soak the mui choy for 30-45 mins. Some recipes recommend soaking the mui choy for 3-4 hours but I attended a cooking class conducted by a chef before and he mentioned that if we wash each mustard leaf carefully, it's ok to soak the mui choy for shorter period.
I was deciding between steaming and braising method and went for braising this time. The day before I cooked a pot of superior chicken stock using kampung chicken and chinese ham, and I believe the meat stock would make this dish irresistibly flavourful :p
The preparation method for superior chicken stock is adapted from Annelicious blog. I changed the proportion as my soup pot is not big enough. I used 1 kampung chicken, 1 kampung chicken carcass, 100g chinese ham, 3 slices of ginger, 2 stalks of spring onion and 3.2L of water. After 4hrs of simmering, I got about 2L of superior stock. Used about 600ml to cook the mui choy pork and froze the rest.
Mui Choy with Pork Belly 梅菜扣肉
(reference: Chinese Heritage Cooking by Christopher Tan)
- 560g pork belly, cut into 3 strips
- 200g sweet mui choy
- 200g salted mui choy
- 40g ginger, sliced
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
- 25g sliced brown sugar
- 600ml superior stock
- 150-300ml water
- Remove each leaf of mui choy from the stem and wash thoroughly to rid excess salt and sand. Soak for at least 30 mins. Thereafter, rinse and cut into small pieces. Squeeze dry the mui choy pieces. Set aside.
- Blanch the pork belly in boiling water for 1 min. Drain and pat dry.
- In a frying pan, dry fry the mui choy pieces. Scoop up and set aside.
- In the same frying pan, add 1 tbsp of cooking oil and pan-fry the pork belly on all sides till slightly browned. Then cut the pork belly into slightly bigger than bite-size pieces. Set aside.
- In a deep heavy pot, add 1-2 tbsp of cooking oil, add garlic and ginger, fry till fragrant. Then add the pork belly pieces, mui choy pieces and the seasonings. Stir-fry for a min.
- Add the superior stock and water. Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer the pork and mui choy for 1 - 1.5hrs, till pork is tender.
- The dish is best eaten the next day to allow full flavours to develop. Serve hot with rice.
After braising for 1.5hrs, there's not much gravy left, as the gravy has all been absorbed into the mui choy. Hence the mui choy is so flavourful and rich. Overall, the taste is rich and full-bodied but not overwhelming or excessively salty or sweet. Perfect with a bowl of hot rice! I ate it for lunch (next day after cooking) and gonna have it for dinner as well =D Love love love it! Next time, probably gonna try the steaming method to see what's the difference :)
Update 15 June 2017
My friend Annie of Annielicious Food blog has started a new venture Eat Matters and her newly launched product is Collagen Bone Broth which is simmered over long hours using hormones-free, antibiotics-free chicken, bones, seafood and even filtered alkaline water!
I used the bone broth to make the Mui Choy Pork Belly this time. My whole house smells heavenly when I was cooking it last night (eat the next day for flavours to develop). OMG it was sooooo flavourful and I couldn't resist eating more rice!
With such a convenient option that's packed with nutrients, I don't even have to make my own superior stock now (which is super tedious by the way)!