MEIGAN CAI BRAISED PORK BELLY
Meigan Cai Braised Pork Belly (梅干菜焖肉) is a simplified Mei Cai Kou Rou (梅菜扣肉). You can’t go wrong with either of these Chinese delicacies from Shaoxing.
It wasn’t until we never went out to eat that I became familiar with this braised version of the meal. Instead of this “lowered” status, Mei Cai Kou Rou has been promoted. It’s more common on restaurant menus, I believe, due to its more delicate presentation.
These two dishes are perfect for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations because they are both celebratory and crowd-pleasing.
- 1 1/2 pounds of skin-on lean pork belly(cut into 1″ pieces)
- 3 cups of meigan cai (dried preserved mustard greens)
- 2 tbsp. of neutral oil
- 35g of rock sugar (or 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar)
- 2 star anise
- 3 slices of ginger
- 1/4 cup of Shaoxing wine
- 2 tbsp. of light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce
- 4 cups of water
- For 30 minutes, soak the mei gan cai in cold water. Drain any sand from the dried vegetables in a colander. Rewash the mei gan cai a few more times until the bowl is clean and free of sand or grit at the bottom. Set aside the rehydrated veggies after removing as much water as possible from them. In order to remove any leftover grit, vegetables should be left undisturbed for five minutes after each wash.
- Ensure the pork skin is free of stray bristles before slicing it into 1-inch thick pieces. Pork belly should be at least an inch above the liquid in a saucepan, so add them both. Cook for 1 minute at a high temperature when it has come to a boil. Set the pork aside after it has been removed from the fire, rinsed, and drained. This procedure ensures that the final meal has a pure flavor because it removes any contaminants.
- Add the oil and sugar to the wok and warm gently over low heat. To make an amber-colored beverage, heat until the sugar dissolves—toss in the pork belly and the other seasonings, including the star anise and ginger. The pork should be gently browned at this point, so raise the heat to medium. Stir in the mei gan cai and cook for one minute more.
- Add the Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and water while the heat is low. The sugar on your spatula should be melted and incorporated into the sauce. Let the liquid to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.
- Stirring every 10 minutes will keep the pork from burning during the 45- to 1-hour simmer until fork-tender. As soon as the meat begins to break down, add extra water to the mixture to prevent it from drying out. As soon as the pork reaches a fork-tender stage, uncover the wok and raise the heat to medium-high. Constantly stir the sauce until it has reduced to about 1/4 cup, then remove from the fire. Be careful not to over-dry the sauce.