If you grew up in a Chinese family, you will totally get this dish. This is one of the signature dishes from Hakka cuisine. Hakka cuisine is rich of flavors, saltiness of preserved vegetables, sweetness of castor sugar and variety of soy based sauces and wonderful flavors of exotic dried seafood of shrimp, squid and a lot more.
Hakka cuisine is characterized by its saltiness (from the use of soy and preserved vegetables), fattiness (associated with its many pork dishes), and rich aromas (from the use of spices like star anise and five-spice and pungent ingredients like black beans and fermented bean curd).
Also known as Mui Choi Khau Yoke, Braised Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Cabbage is a winner for Hakka dish of fatty pork belly. What else can warm your heart with a plate of fatty pork? Ours are richly flavored with preserved and salted mustard cabbage, dried shrimps, mushroom flavored soy sauce, garlic and rice wine. The pork belly itself is salted, pricked, deep-fried, braised and steamed. Through all these cooking processes, the spices, wine and soy sauce as well as pungent-induced-savoriness of preserved cabbage and dried shrimp infuse all three layers of skin, fat and meat. Pork belly is cooked till tender, at the end of the cooking, it has been marinated in the sauce for hours under low heat steaming.
The cooking process not only take a long time, I find the most terrifying part is throwing the big chunk of meat into the hot cooking oil. The hot oil splatter is instantaneous and almost life threatening. Okay not exactly as dramatic, but it is worth noting. I scarred my limbs a little bit but scarred the pork skin a lot. That is what counts.
Reliving childhood by enjoying classic dishes we had grown to love, and almost forget, is truly precious.
Braised Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Cabbage
1,5 kg pork belly
1 cup cooking oil, more for deep frying pork belly
1 bulb garlic, minced
1 tbsp salt
200 g preserved mustard cabbage (mui choi/mui choy)
50 g dried cuttlefish, sliced finely
200 g dried shrimp, chopped
1/2 tbsp mushroom sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp white pepper
1/3 cup rice wine
1000 cc hot water
Rinse pork belly with cold water and pat dry. Prick the skin with a fork thoroughly and make sure every inch of it is scarred. Cut pork into two or three smaller pieces to make it easier to handle
Heat cooking oil for deep-frying in a wok over medium heat. Fill the oil half way through the wok. Deep-fry the pork, skin-side down. Let it cook thoroughly till dry and golden for about 15 minutes. Flip the pork over and fry the lean meat part. Cook for another 5 minutes. Deep-fry the rest of the pork belly. Set aside and let cool
Heat one cup of cooking oil in the same wok. Stir-fry garlic till fragrant over medium heat. Add dried shrimp, preserved mustard cabbage and dried cuttlefish. Season with mushroom sauce, soy sauce, sugar, white pepper and rice wine. Mix well and stir fry for another 5 minutes
Add hot water into the wok and lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes
Set up a steamer and boil the water in advance
Cut the pork into 3 cm-thick slices. Arrange the pork with skin-side down in a glass heatproof container. Pour the sauce on top of the pork and arrange the ingredients to cover the pork completely. Steam the pork for 3 - 4 hours, over low heat and covered. Check every 15 minutes and moist the top of the dish with the sauce.
Remove from heat and serve warm with fried mantou or steamed rice.
Step by Step
Preparation of pork belly
The cooking process of Braised Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Cabbage