Ever since I bought a pack of Meigan cai, or pickled Chinese mustard, I feel the urge of making braised pork whenever I see meigan cai. I guess this stuff is addictive!
Meigan cai is dried and pickled Chinese mustard. It is known in Taiwan as a ingredient of Hakka dish, but in fact it’s quite popular in the whole south-eastern China. Chinese mustard is a magical plant for me. There are at least five types of popular pickles are made from it. Each pickle go through different phases of process, and thus each has their special flavor.
Since Meigan cai is the pickle which takes longest time to make among the Chinese mustard pickle family, it has a very deep, intense, and mild flavor. To “wake up” your meigan cai, you need to soak it in clean water till it turns soft, and then fry it to bring out its fragrance.
Even though Meigan cai is generally fermented with salt, sugar, and chili pepper, there are still some minor differences in taste and flavor when comparing between brands. Some tend to be salty, some are sweet. You can adjust the flavor while you’re cooking.
My braised pork belly was so fragrant that I felt I was attacked by it when I was taking pictures. That is exactly why I only took one photo for this bento- It’s irresistibly delicious.
Braised Pork Belly with Meigan Cai Recipe
Yield: 8 bento
Prep time: 10 minutes + 1 hour soaking meigan cai
Cooking time: 55 minutes
- 100g/3.5oz meigan cai (usually it’s one ball of it)
- 1 lb pork belly, cut to 1cm/0.4 inches thick slices
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1-2 red chili pepper
- 2-3 scallion, cut into 5cm/2 inches slices
- 4-5 slices of ginger
- 1/2 cup rice wine
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp grounded white pepper
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Soak meigan cai fully in water for 1 hour and then rinse it. Squeeze out excess water and chop it into small pieces. In a pan, use low flame to stir fry it without oil for 3-4 minutes or till it turns fragrant. Take out and set aside.
- Heat your dutch oven over medium heat and sear both sides of pork belly till golden brown.
- Add garlic slices, chili pepper, scallion, and ginger slices. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes till the spices turn fragrant.
- Add meigan cai, rice wine, soy sauce, grounded white pepper, and sugar. Pour in water till most of the pork are covered. Cover and cook for 30 minutes with low to medium flame.
- Open and turn to high flame to concentrate the sauce.
This dish goes very very well with rice. In fact, don’t forget to prepare more rice than usual because it’s really addictive!