Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables (Mei Cai) Recipe (梅菜扣肉)

Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables (Mei Cai) Recipe (梅菜扣肉)


Mei Cai Kou Rou

“Homemade ‘Mei Cai Kou Rou’ (梅菜扣肉) can be as good as restaurant standard”

Hey, it may not be as good as restaurant chef, but it is for sure very delicious for a homemade version (chuckling)!

I cooked it at home as outside is selling expensive for this pork dish. I could understand why as its preparation and cooking methods are kinda complex.

I took me for than 2 hours to get this dish done, from steeping of preserved vegetables (梅菜) to steaming the pork belly. Well, it was because each detail has to be executed in orderly manner for great result. However, it may look deceptively complicated, but after the frying step, it should be alright, as it left only the steaming, and then, the presentation part that matters.

It takes longer preparation time, but it’s not a dream to have it well executed and delicious!

If you wish to impress your loved one, cook this dish. You’ll surely be awarded with the credits you’ve gained from this highly presentable pork dish.

Mei Cai Kou Rou
600 gram of 3-layer pork belly with skin intact, clean its skin by scrapping it.

Seasoning for pork:
1 – 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
2 – 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Chinese rice wine (米酒)
½ tablespoon of fermented broad bean paste (豆瓣酱)
½ small cube of fermented red bean curd (红腐乳/ 南乳)
1 thin slices of ginger, about thumb size
5 cloves of garlic with skin intact, coarsely mashed
2 star anise (八角)

150 grams of preserved (dried) vegetables (梅菜干)
1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
2 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of Chinese rice wine

1 cup pf cooking oil (for frying)

1) Steep preserved vegetables in warm water for at least 3 hours in order to extract excessive salt from it. Rinse the vegetables, and change water after every 2 hour of steeping. Thereafter, drain the vegetables a little by squeezing it, and then, chop into little pieces (bite size). Reserve for later.

2) Marinate whole 3-layer pork belly with all seasonings, for at least 1 hour.

3) Remove pork from the seasoning mixture, and pat it dry a little using kitchen towel (to avoid oil splashing when frying it). Do not discard the seasoning mixture. Set aside.

4) Heat wok with oil over medium heat. Fry or sauté pork till slightly browned, or about 80% done. Remove from wok to drain and cool on chopping board.

5) Coming back to the preserved vegetables while waiting for pork belly to cool. Season preserved vegetable with sugar, soy sauce and rice wine. Heat up a clean wok, pan fry vegetables for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from work and set it aside for later.

6) When pork belly is cool, slice it into 1cm thickness, lengthwise. Lay pork slices neatly after each piece on a medium-sized porcelain wide bowl (or deep plate), with pork skin facing downwards.

7) Return the seasoning mixture and pour over pork slices. Top preserved vegetables evenly on the pork slices.

8) Heat wok with plenty of water over medium fire, place in metal steam rack. Steam pork dish for 45 minutes.

9) When it is done and meat is soften, heat off and remove bowl from the wok. Use a large deep serving plate to cover the bowl filled with pork dish. Use hands (with glove or table cloth) to lift up and ‘lock the pork dish between’ both plate and bowl, hold tightly and tilt them to drain the sauce in a separate bowl. Then, over-turn the whole bowl, and now large serving plate should be at the bottom, while bowl is on top of the plate. Remove bowl, the pork belly should be nicely presented with the preserved vegetables underneath.

10) Return the sauce and pour over the pork dish to serve. If desire, heat wok to slightly thicken the sauce with 1 teaspoon of corn starch slurry, before pouring over pork belly dish. Serve warm.

Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables (Mei Cai) Recipe (梅菜扣肉)

A decent serving of my Mei Cai Kou Rou counts about 500kcal.

Just a note: I did not thicken the sauce for this dish.

Tips: Remove star anise, ginger slice and garlic cloves when serve for better presentation, as desired.
* When choose preserved dried vegetables (梅菜), get those without additional salt on top of the vegetables. It should be just the dried vegetables alone, without trace of visible salt on it.
* To check if the steeping is sufficient, taste and chew a little to determine if it is still too salty in the palate. The leaf of the vegetables should be steeped until almost bland, while it’s OK if the root taste a little saltish. Be reminded that the root is always more salty than the leaf part.
*Add yam slices into this pork belly dish. I love it! Check it out in my next post.

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