Friday 9 January 2015

Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens (Mui Choy Kau Yoke) 梅菜扣肉


I have finally found my first guest contributor. He is no other than my hubby. He works as a Chinese chef and as all Chinese chefs, they are a bit secretive to reveal their traits. But he is supportive of me. Hence, this recipe. He has been doing this recipe for years and I have to say his mui choy kau yoke or pork belly with preserved mustard greens is well received amongst his customers. If you ask me, this dish is more home-cooked comfort food than restaurant food, just perfect for my humble blog. Whatever it is, I welcome his contribution.

The Hakkas like their dish basic and humble without much refinement. Therefore, it is no wonder that this dish looks totally unappealing with its dark and disarranged appearance. However, whoever who has tried this dish before would know that it is really a hidden gem. The hours of slow cooking added with the unique taste of mui choy (preserved mustard greens) combines well to give you an umami taste that makes you hunger for more! For some, it is an acquired taste but for me, it is love at first bite. Totally love the taste of the pork belly with preserved mustard greens!

This classic dish has so many steps, it is absolute madness. My advice would be to make a big batch and keep it frozen. Then you can savour the taste without having to go through all these steps over and over.

Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens (Mui Choy Kau Yoke)

Makes 18 slices of pork belly (approximately 4-5 people)


600 g pork belly
600 g salted mui choy (preserved mustard greens)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 1/2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
2 tbsp tapioca starch
6-7 slices old ginger
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp oil
oil for frying

Cooking Instruction

1. Wash and soak mui choy from all the dirt and salt. Soak in water overnight changing the water every few hours. Drain mui choy, squeeze dry and cut into 1 inch at the stem and about 2 inches for the leafs.

2. Blanch pork to remove odour and impurities. Prick the skin with a meat tenderiser (see pix). Dry meat with a kitchen towel. Rub some dark soya sauce on the skin to give the pork belly some colour.

3. Heat some oil in a wok/pan. Sear pork, skin side down. Be careful with the oil splatter when putting the pork in. I made a mistake of not drying the meat enough resulting in hot oil splattering on my hand. Once skin becomes cooked, remove from oil and soak it in water to rid excess oil. Drain pork and cut into slices of 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.

4. Fry mui choy in a wok with no oil until dry. Remove. Using the same wok, heat up 3 tbsp oil. Add ginger slices and garlic. Fry until fragrant. Add fried mui choy into wok again and continue to fry. Add pork and seasoning into wok. Then add water just enough to cover pork. Simmer for about 10-15 mins. Turn off heat. Add tapioca starch that has been mixed with one tsp water to thicken the sauce.

5. Arrange pork belly into a bowl, skin side down. Pack mui choy over the pork slices. Cover with aluminiun foil.

6. Steam bowl of pork for 3 to 4 hours in very slow fire. The longer it is steamed, the more flavourful and tender the meat is.

7. Remove aluminium foil. Put a plate on top of bowl and make a quick turn. There you have it. The "downside-up" pork belly (扣肉) !

If you have a stove pressure cooker, put bowl into pressure cooker with about 2 inches of water and cook in high pressure for 30-40 mins.

Update 6/4/2019: Instant Pot/electric pressure cooker is a popular tool now. Here's the adapted recipe. 

1. Follow step 1 to 3. 
2. Then add some oil in pressure cooker, and saute the garlic and ginger in bake mode until fragrant. Add in preserved mustard and continue to fry until the vege dries up. Remove.
3. Add all the pork belly into the pressure cooker. Add seasoning, starch and water just enough to cover the vegetables (not too much). Close lid and cook at KPT  (keep pressure time) 25 mins. Leave it for another 10 mins after timer beeps before manual release. Serve.

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