Sunday, September 19, 2010

Preserved Mustard Leaves with Pork Ribs (Hakka 'Moi choy Chu Nyuk')

Back to my Hakka roots, this dish is the ultimate comfort food in my mom's house. She has been cooking this dish for as long as I know and one of her favorites to bring to her own family gatherings. And to tell the truth, this  was my first time making it and it was the easiest dish to make.

The Hakka people use alot of preserved vegetables and ingredients in their cooking and one of the very frugal clans that prepares the most simple dishes with minimum effort and time. This particular vegetable is made of large mustard leaves, which in its original state is a bit bitter but has a cooling effect when made into a soup dish. In this preserved state, this 'mui choy' is soaked in tonnes of salt that pulls out all the excess liquid from the leaves itself and lends a subtle fermented aroma to it. There are 2 types of this mui choy, one is salty and the other is slightly sweetened with the addition of sugar. Both can be combined to cook this dish or either one can be used if you have a very typical and distinct palate for one taste only at a time. Prior to use, both types must be washed under running water to get rid of the grits of salt and all excess water squeezed out and cut down to little pieces.

For this dish, I used pork ribs of which I cut down to chunky pieces but the more preferred cut of meat is belly pork with all the fats attached. By using ribs, I got a more drier dish with less oily gravy soaking up the meat pieces but the dish is moist and soft with the crunch from the vegetable. This dish needs a longer cooking and best eaten the next day when all the flavors from the vegetable is absorbed into the meat itself. And the best complement to this dish is white jasmine rice, piping hot and eaten from a bowl!


900g Pork ribs (cut down to chunks)
300g Salted Mustard Leaves (1 package)
2 small shallots (sliced thinly)
5 cloves garlic (grated)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1/3 cup Dark Soy sauce
3 cups water
1 tsp white pepper

1)Wash the mustard leaves thoroughly and cut into small pieces. Retain the leaves part too. Squeeze out all excess water.
2)Heat a large pot with 2 tbsp cooking oil. Saute the shallot, garlic and ginger for 1 min. Add in the pork ribs, cooking wine, pepper and 1 cup of water and coat evenly. Cover the lid and let it steam and cook for about 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
3)Add in the mustard leaves and stir to mix. Pour in the dark soy sauce to mix. Pour in the remaining 2 cups of water and turn up the heat to boiling.
4)Turn down the heat to simmering heat and simmer for about 45 mins to 1 hour, till the meat is tender. Stir occasionally and add water by additional 1/2 cup if getting dry.
5)Dish up and serve with white rice. Can be freeze for up to 1 week.

Serves: 6 to 8 person

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