This recipe was part of the Chinese style multi dish meal I served for my mother’s birthday though it is also something we now often eat as a midweek supper. A few weeks ago I posted the method for making Poached Chicken Breasts and this recipe uses a similar method of pre-cooking the Belly Pork strips to tenderise them, as they can sometimes be rather chewy if not cooked for very long. I am sure that it would be perfectly acceptable to pre-cook belly strips by this method for other non Chinese style recipes.
I like to consider that this is a pretty genuine Chinese recipe as my brother in law’s family is Chinese. It came via my sister in law from my brother in law, who learned it from his father. This was the family’s favourite recipe so my sister in law makes it very regularly, serving it with rice into which pieces of the Chinese Sausage “Lap Cheong (sometimes spelled Xuong) Wu Xiang” (available from the Oriental supermarket) have been added. One day she served it to us and I begged the recipe – here it is. I was given very specific instructions on how to make the original version (no onion at all and I had to use spring greens) and for mum’s Chinese birthday meal I made it that way but we found the flavour of the greens rather too strong. My brother in law much prefers the original recipe without any onions. He says he likes this way as it is more savoury and not as sweet. He also has a memory of his dad crushing the garlic cloves with a knife to just break them, but leaving them intact. They were then cooked to flavour the hot oil but removed before cooking the rest of the dish: he remembers the smell of the garlic being cooked in this way. He understands that the Chinese cook garlic in this way as it adds flavour but doesn’t burn. In the end I have settled on my own variations for home cooking, which does include onion, the flavour of which we really love in Chinese food and replacing the greens with either Broccoli or Bok Choy (or choi, also known as pak choy or choi). This last was definitely our favourite version and is a very good way to use the Boy Choy which occasionally appears on our local street market. I also added mushroom slices and some colourful peppers for colour and flavour with a drizzle of sesame oil just prior to serving. This will be my regular way of cooking the recipe from now on – I just need to track down a source of the chinese sausage in small quantities. So far I have only found it in multi packs which would last me several years. A word about the oil too… My sister in law uses a special wok oil, a blend of sunflower, sesame and ginger oils with natural extracts of garlic. I just use ordinary sunflower oil and finish the dish, as advised by Ken Hom, by stirring through a slug of sesame oil – but I never use olive oil.
Chinese Style Belly Pork & Greens/Broccoli/Bok Choy-Pak Choy
The ‘orthodox’ original recipe: pork poached in ginger then fried in garlic infused oil with a little more ginger, the soy sauce and Spring greens added towards the end of cooking time.
Below is my own variation.
2 tablespoons of oil
4 large Belly Pork strips – 1 per person (I prefer skinless pieces)
1 large piece Ginger, unpeeled and chopped into large pieces
1 small knob Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 large cloves Garlic
1tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
250g/8ozs Green Cabbage, washed and finely chopped (or Broccoli/Bok Choy) - or more
Chinese sausage to flavour rice (optional)
2 medium sized white onions
1 bunch spring onions
125g/4ozs button mushrooms
1 or 2 Peppers – mixed colours if possible
1tbsp Sesame oil
Poaching the pork and ginger (can be done in advance and refrigerated or frozen for later use)
1. Put the belly pork strips into a saucepan with a large piece of ginger cut into chunks.
2. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 mins
3. Take the pork out and leave to cool.
4. Cut the pork into large pieces leave on all the fat – each piece should be should be about the width of your thumb. Put to one side.
Stir frying the pork
5. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the wok
6. Crush the garlic with the flat side of a large knife so they are flattened but don’t fall apart. Cook in the hot oil to infuse the flavour and then remove them before they burn.
Crush or chop the garlic and cook along with the onion, ginger and mushroom without removing.
7. Add a chopped thumb sized ginger piece to the hot oil, along with the finely sliced onion and mushroom and garlic (if using). Allow them to soften without burning.
8. Add the sliced pieces of belly pork and cook, initially on a high heat. Add dark soy sauce to coat the meat: it is suggested the soy is used liberally but I feel this depends on personal taste.
9. Add the sliced pepper(s) if using.
10. Cover the wok and turn down the heat.
11. Add the chopped up greens to the wok containing the pork and ginger. Add a little boiling water if required and more soy sauce if desired.
12. Stir the greens when you adding them so they are well mixed with the pork and the sauce.
13. Cook until the meat is soft and the greens are tender. 20minutes is recommended but I prefer a shorter time so the greens still retain their crispness.
14. Just prior to serving, stir through the sesame oil. It is used to add flavour rather than to fry.
15. Serve with rice (plus Chinese sausage (see notes and below).
A note about Rice
Slice one Lap Cheong/Xuong Chinese sausage and add it on top of the rice once the rice steamer clicks over to warm, (or when almost all the water has disappeared if cooking conventionally in a saucepan). Leave for 20 mins to heat through (this is about the time the greens are added to the pork, although I like my greens cooked for a shorter time).