Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mei Gan (Cai) Kou Rou! or (梅菜扣肉)

Opps, I've neglected to blog for a couple months!

Why the sudden inspiration to blog again?

Mei2gan1kou4rou4 (梅菜扣肉)!

My mom is an amazing Taiwanese cook so the way I like it is the way she made it. Too bad she is so good at cooking she doesn't use recipes. I called her to ask how she made it and she says something like "put some of that in and a little of this, then about that much of that" which obviously didn't help much.

So, when I wanted to make this a couple months back, I had to gather many different recipes to figure out how to make it like my mom made it (many of those recipes had ingredients measured in grams, which made it a little annoying to convert since I live in the US). However, the way she makes it is a little different from the way it is traditionally made, but it's still awesome! My dad's side of the family are "ke4jia1ren2" 客家人 and Mei Gan Kou Rou is a signature dish of the people, so this recipe should be on par with what it should taste like.

Now that I was craving it again, I forgot bits and pieces of how I made it! So now I will document it so I will never EVER forget!

This is one of my FAVORITE dishes EVER!!!

Main Ingredients:

2 Tbs Oil
1/2 lb Pork Belly (with skin attached)
1 package (4.2oz) Preserved Mustard Greens Mei2Gan1Cai4

Fragrant Ingredients: (Bao4Xiang1)

1 Tbs Oil
4 slices of ginger (pictured below)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 stalk Green Onion (scallions) sliced

Sauce Ingredients:

4 Tbs Soy Sauce (I used Kikkoman low sodium soy sauce)
1 Tbs Chinese Rice Wine (for cooking)
3-4 C Water
1 Tbs Sugar
1 1inch in diameter piece of Rock Candy
1 Tsp Salt
1 Star Anise

Thickening Agent:

1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp water


1) Soak the dried preserved mustard greens in warm water for at least 2-3 hours. Rinse, drain, then refill with warm water every 30 minutes or so because the preserved greens are very salty and you want the greens to soften. (I'd actually recommend soaking it overnight. You wouldn't have to rinse every 30 minutes if you do, obviously. I soaked mine for 3 hours and when I finished making the dish, there were still some hard pieces of mustard greens. Next time I will soak overnight! :( )

2) Clean the pork belly by removing the hair on the surface of the skin (I personally haven't seen any hair on my pieces of pork belly before, but this step is just a precaution for others).

3) Cut the pork belly into one inch rectangles. (You can slice it however you like, it cooks faster like this so I prefer it this way)

4) Heat (preferably in a nonstick) wok/pot with 2 Tbs of oil over medium heat. Add pork belly and sauté until you don't see anymore blood and it starts looking a bit browned then remove the partially cooked pork belly from the pot, discard the oil in the pot, and set the pork aside.

5) After soaking the mustard greens for at least 2-3 hours, drain it and squeeze out the excess water.

6) Heat wok/pot again with the leftover Tbs of oil, add the minced garlic, sliced ginger, and green onion (scallions). Sauté until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes) then add the mustard greens and sauté for another minute.

This picture was taken before I added the mustard greens.

7) Add the soy sauce, cooking wine, water, (I like a lot of sauce, you can decrease on this if you'd like, but you would also have to decrease the other ingredients for the sauce as well) sugar, rock candy, salt, and star anise.

8) Add the pork you set aside earlier and bring it to a boil, then put the heat on low and simmer for 2 or more hours until the pork is really tender and the flavors have all married together. When you taste it in the beginning it might taste bland/weird, but just wait! (Make sure you check on it every so often, the low heat at my place acts like a medium heat, almost drying out all of my sauce so I had to add 3+ cups of water to keep it saucy!) The longer you simmer, the better it will taste! Promise!

Look at it steaming!

9) Now you can stir together the cornstarch and 1 tsp of water in a small bowl to make the thickening agent (if you'd like the sauce to be a little less watery and a little thicker) and add it to the pot.

10) Make rice while your Mei Gan Kou Rou is simmering and serve when done! (You may take out the star anise and ginger slices before you serve!)

Remember to season to your own taste! This is how I personally like it!


The presentation might not be as pretty as the traditional look, but hey, looks aren't everything!

Reference Photos:

iThis is the packaging the Mei Gan Cai came in. The bottom of it says "Shao Xiao Prepared Leaf Mustard. I just call them mustard greens for simplicity's sake.

This is how I soaked the mustard greens. I put a big stainless steel bowl under a colander so it would be easier to strain and rinse. These mustard greens are already in rather small pieces.

This is the amount of ginger I used.

Sliced green onion (scallions)

The rock candy mentioned in the ingredients list above.

Enjoy!! I sure will!

Til next time! May your days be delighted with many delectable dishes.


Anonymous said...

I made this yesterday following your instructions and it came out tasting pretty close to how my grandma used to make it. Thank you for posting this and thanks to google for leading me here!!

jaimtel said...

thanks for sharing this. took me awhile to find the english version of this recipe. and the taste turned out great!

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