Mei Cai

Pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens (Mei Cai Kou Rou 梅菜扣肉)

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Pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens (Mei Cai Kou Rou 梅菜扣肉)

When I was a little girl, my grandmother often sent me to the market across the road to get groceries. At the market, there were urns of soy sauce, slabs of tofu, loads of vegetables, a fish stand and a pork stand.  When it was my turn at the butcher’s stand, with his huge chopping cleaver in his hand, he looked down to me and asked loudly: ‘soup or for stir fry’. I looked up and quietly said: “kou rou’. He would then cut me a small piece of pork belly and tight it with a bamboo string as I handed over coupons and money.

A Chinese butcher at the market
A Chinese butcher at the market

I still remember how the bundles of dry ‘Mei Cai’, or salted Chinese dry mustard greens, hanging from the bamboo racks at the markets. There were preserved greens as well, being fermented in large brown urns. In the good old days, ‘mei cai’ was popular in China – it was cheap and can be use with so many dishes. If one ran out of money, ‘mei cai’ and boiled rice was considered a far superior option than soy sauce and boiled rice.

Here is one of my grandmother’s favorite dish – ‘mei cai kou rou’, or pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens.

Recipe is as follows:  Read the rest of this entry »