Mui Choy Kau Yoke (Slow Braised Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens)
Posted April 27, 2012on:
Growing up, I remembered my mother making steamed minced pork with preserved mustard greens and it was one of my favourite meals. The combination of pork and mustard greens which the Cantonese call mui choy, is extremely comforting and not to mention, delicious. But I hated fatty cuts of meat when I was a child. They somehow made me gag and in many ways I still hate big chunks of fat in my food. I avoided everything fatty until one day, when I tried mui choy kau yoke. Despite the pork belly in the dish, the layered fat and meat melted immediately in my mouth and I felt a burst of earthiness that’s quite indescribable. I became a convert since then. =)
Sometimes spelled mui choy kau yuk or mui choy kau yoke due to various translations from Chinese, this is a super classic Hakka dish. Mui choy can be found in most Chinese grocery stores or herbal shops and it comes in sweet or salty varieties. When my mum cooks mui choy, she often mixes both varieties together for the sake of flavour balance. I only used the sweet kind because it is really not 100% sweet, more like 65% sweet and 35% salty. Mui choy must be soaked in water to remove the salt, sugar, and sand. Depending on where your mui choy comes from, it might need a longer soaking time. I cut mine up and soaked for about 4 hours, changing the bowl of water every hour.
Then, there’s the pork belly. I was in Chinatown near downtown Vancouver and I saw the most beautiful slab of pork belly in front of me. Fat and meat were nicely layered with 60% meat and 40% fat. Some like them fattier but that was perfect for me. I marinated the belly with a bit of five spice powder, salt and pepper. Then I crisped up the skin and let it slowly braised for 4 hours with the mui choy braising liquid until meat is super tender and the fat is meltingly soft. If I were you, I would let it sit in the fridge overnight before serving it to let it soak up the flavours. Mui choy kau yoke is excellent with steamed jasmine rice and leftovers, if any, are great as stuffing in steamed buns, called mui choy kau yoke bao.
- 1 kg pork belly
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- 300 g mui choy (preserved mustard greens)
- 1/2 bulb garlic, finely chopped
- few thin slivers of ginger
- 3 tbsp kicap manis (sweet soy sauce)
- soy sauce
- salt & pepper
- cornstarch + water (to form a slurry)
- Wash pork belly with cold water and pat it dry with a kitchen towel.
- Cut belly into half crosswise so that it’s a bit smaller.
- Score pork belly on the skin. Marinate it with some soy sauce and five spice powder for 30 minutes or so.
- Cut mui choy into 1 cm pieces and soak in cold water for about 4 hours. Change water several times to get rid of all the excess salt, sugar, and sand.
- Squeeze the mui choy to remove the excess water.
- Fry pork belly skin side down on medium low heat with some oil in a wok until crispy. Turn the belly over and caramelize the other side.
- Reserve the pork belly aside.
- In a pot, stir fry mui choy with some oil until fragrant.
- Add garlic and ginger and fry for a few minutes.
- Add pork belly into the pot and just enough water to cover.
- Mix in the kicap manis, a bit of soy sauce, and sugar. The braising liquid should be lightly sweet with a hint of saltiness.
- Simmer with a lid on for 4 hours until the pork belly is very tender.
- Add enough slurry to create a velvety sauce.
- Serve mui choy kau yoke with rice.