Braised Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens (梅菜扣肉)

by tina

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I had first made this dish back in April this year and finally had the time to perfect it. The main thing I was working on was getting the right sauce quantity needed for steaming and also the right amount of soy sauce and sugar for the right taste.

This dish brings back a lot of childhood memories, as it was one of my favorites as a child. My grandma in Taiwan used to preserved the mustard greens herself and we would either get some from her every time we visit Taiwan or she would bring some to us in the states. My mother made it the best. Although I don’t think I’ve been able to replicate that exact same taste, but I think it is pretty darn close.

Ingredients:

  • About 2 lbs pork belly (with skin on)
  • 2 cups preserved mustard greens (梅菜)

Water bath

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 by 3 inch ginger
  • 2 stalks green onions
  • 1 star anise

Vegetable portion

  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Sauce for steaming

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 star anise (can be the same one from the water bath)

**Allow about 5 hrs to make

Directions:

First, soak the preserved mustard greens in water for at least 2 hours. Then naturally, wash and cut into pieces.

The 梅菜 I have here are from Taiwan, preserved by my relatives. If you buy the completely dried packages from an asian grocery store, they will need to be soaked for a much longer time–at least 5 hours, and they’re usually already cut into pieces.

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Now onto the pork belly.

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You will need to boil out the fat and give the meat some flavor in a water bath.

Fill the pot with water. Peel the garlic cloves. Peel and cut the ginger into small chunks. Cut the green onions. Place these ingredients and star anise in the water. Turn the temperature to high. When it comes to a boil, place the pork belly in the water bath. Make sure the pork belly is covered completely by water. Cover lid. Turn temperature to low medium and simmer. Flip the pork belly around after 30 mins and continue simmering for another 30 mins. So the total simmer time is 1 hour.

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Take the pork belly out of the water bath and place it on the cutting board. Since it is still too hot to touch, you can check the skin for any pork hairs and remove with tweezers. Wait until it is cooler to touch, then make small slits on the skin with the tip of a knife. Coat all surface area with soy sauce. Let is sit for about 10 mins.

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The next step is to sear the pork belly skin: Heat the pan on medium high and when the pan is hotter, add about 2 tablespoons of canola oil.  When the oil is hotter, place the skin side of the pork belly down in the pan. Be careful, the oil may splatter, so use the pan lid as a shield or an oil splatter screen.

Sear the skin until brown. Try to sear as evenly as you can by tilting the pan and moving the oil around in the pan so that the sides and edges can be seared.

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Using the same oil that was used to fry the pork belly skin. Turn the temperature to high until the pan and oil is hotter and place the preserved mustard greens in the pan. Stir for about 30 secs. Add the sugar and soy sauce and continue stirring for about 1-2 minutes. Then set it aside.

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Slice the pork belly into thin slices (~1/2 inch slices) and place them in a large enough bowl that will be able to fit into your rice cooker/steamer. To fit all the slices evenly in the bowl, you can first put a few slices at the bottom of the bowl and then fan out the rest of the slices on top.

For the sauce, simply mix the soy sauce, sugar, and water. Pour in the sauce along with the star anise. Add the preserved mustard greens on top.

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Put 3 cups of water in the rice cooker. Place the bowl in the rice cooker (Tatung rice cookers are such good steamers). Cover bowl with a plate. Cover with rice cooker lid. Switch down that cook button.

Once the button clicks back up, you must wait for about 1 hour before it is ready.

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It is now ready. (finally)

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