....... Divertimento: Lunar New Year family gathering with a dish of Pork with Preserved Spinach (梅菜豬肉)

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Lunar New Year family gathering with a dish of Pork with Preserved Spinach (梅菜豬肉)

Chinese New Year is a time for family reunions, family dinners and celebration. Here is a dish that can be prepared ahead of time and yet will not require re-heating if you time it right. Pork with Preserved Spinach (梅菜豬肉 mui choi chu yok in Cantonese) can be prepared well ahead of time (even the day before) and steamed for about 1½ hours to finish. Perfect for a day of mahjong playing followed by dinner!

Have a great Lunar New Year and wishing you a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous Horse Year!恭喜發財!

Pork with Preserved Spinach (梅菜豬肉)

500g belly pork with skin (have the butcher cut you a piece which is about 3” wide)
1tbsp dark soya sauce
1 piece (about 100g) preserved spinach (sweet variety) (甜梅菜)
3 cloves garlic (skin removed)
3 slices ginger
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
2tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp salt
3 star anise
10 black peppercorns


  1. Wash preserved spinach very well to remove all sand. Cut preserved spinach into 2” lengths and soak in warm water. (Cut the stalk part of the vegetable to thin slices). After 10 minutes, drain water and squeeze the preserved spinach dry to remove some of the sweetness. Repeat this until the preserved spinach is not too sweet.

  2. Clean the pork, remove any hair from the skin. Place the pork in a saucepan with enough water to just cover the pork. Boil the pork in slow heat for 30 minutes. Remove and pat the pork dry with kitchen paper towels. Set the stock aside for later.
    Using a skewer, lightly prick all over the skin of the pork. Rub dark soya sauce all over the pork.

  3. Heat oil in a wok. The oil should be about 1” deep. Pick up the piece of marinaded pork, drip dry before dropping it “skin side down” into the oil. Watch out for splattering hot oil. This is the messiest part of the process!

  4. Let the skin fry till it is starting to crackle. Be sure not to burn it though. Then proceed to fry the other sides of the piece of pork to ensure that the dark soya sauce stays on the pork.

  5. Remove pork from wok and leave to cool.

  6. In a clean wok, dry fry the preserved spinach over medium heat for 5 minutes to remove the strong smell from the vegetable. Add in a pinch of salt. Dish up the preserved spinach.

  7. Add 1 tbsp of oil in the wok and fry the ginger and garlic till lightly browned. Add in the preserved spinach, ½ cup of stock, rice wine, star anise and black peppercorns. Lastly, add in the soya sauce and salt to taste. Different brands of dark and light soya sauces vary in saltiness so it is important to adjust according to taste. Bring ingredients to boil and the turn off the heat.

  8. Now to assemble the dish. Using a sharp knife, cut the piece of pork into ½” slices. Arrange the pork neatly “skin side down” in a claypot. Top with the cooked preserved spinach (see picture below).

  9. Place the claypot in a wok or steamer and steam for about 1½ hours. The dish is ready when the pork is melt in the mouth soft.

  10. Invert the claypot onto a deep serving dish and serve the pork hot with rice.

Note – if you are not using sweet preserved spinach, go through the same procedure as above. Make sure the saltiness is removed during soaking. When dry frying, add a teaspoon of sugar.

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