Mei Cai Kou Rou (Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables)

Melt in your mouth pork belly, rendered fat on preserved vegetables, savoury aromatic sauce, this is what you call a Chinese comfort meal. Mei Cai Kou Rou, also called Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables is a Chinese dish of steamed pork belly over preserved mustard served on a sweet savoury thick sauce.

When I first tried this dish at Golden Century Restaurant(now closed) in Auckland, it instantly became one of my favourite Chinese dish. Before that first time, I always saw this dish on Chinese Restaurant menus but always avoided them becuase of the word “Preserved Vegetables”, nothing sounds appetising on those words for my ears, but one day one of my life mottos kicked in (“Do not say no to anything unless you had tried it already, otherwise you wont know what’s in store for you”) and gave it a try, since then , this is one of my staple order in Chinese Restaurants if they offer them.

So what is Mei Cai Kou Rou? Traditionally a festive dish made with thrice cooked pork, first by poaching, second by quickly searing, then finally steaming for a long time to give it a melt in your mouth texture. Preserved vegetables are steamed with pork which creates a wonderful amalgamation of flavours, giving the vegetables a meaty taste and the vegetables adding earthiness to the meat. It may look labour intensive at first but the hardest part of making this dish is soaking and cleaning the preserved vegetables, cooking it is straight forward.

The special ingredient here is the Preserved Mustard or “Mei Cai”, it is a pickled Chinese mustard typically used in the Hakka cuisine. They are made from a whole head of Chinese mustard vegetables, which are pickled, dried, steamed then salted This is then fermented on large clay urns for roughly 15 to 20 days and is commonly used on stews and steamed dishes due to their intensely flavour and aroma. There are several varieties of this preserved vegetables, one is just dried, another one is sweet then the salted ones, for our recipe the sweet and salty ones can be used so do not buy the dried ones.

Finding in an Asian supermarket might be hard becuase there are no English words on its packaging, the best way to do grab a Chinese person show them a photo in Google and most probably they can point you to the right direction. Anyways that’s what I usually do when I am searching for ingredients like this and it work 100% of the time. Anyways that is all for today, trust me this dish is amazing, if there is one Chinese dish on this blog to keep, this is the one.

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Mei Cai Kou Rou (Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Raymund
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 mins
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Chinese


Mei Cai Kou Rou, also called Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables is a Chinese dish of steamed pork belly over preserved mustard served on a sweet savoury thick sauce.


Units Scale


  • 750 g whole slab boneless pork belly
  • 2 slices ginger about 1/8-inch thick, 2 inches long (0.3 cm thick/5cm long)
  • 2 pcs star anise
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • water
  • oil

Preserved Vegetables


  • 1 tsp cornstarch, combined with 1 tbsp water


  1. Place preserved mustard greens in a large bowl, add water until of the vegetables are submerged. Let it soak for 6 to 8 hours.
  2. In a colander pour the mustard greens to drain the water, rinse in running tap water multiple times until all the sand and dirt has been rinsed off. Fully drain then set aside.
  3. Prepare a pot over a stove top in high heat, put pork belly slab flat on the bottom with skin side up, pour water until pork is submerged. Add ginger slices and star anise then bring it to a boil, once boiling lower heat to medium low and let it simmer for 35 minutes.
  4. Remove the pork from the pot then set it aside, let it cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Prepare a large wok, place over high heat and once the wok starts to smoke add a small amount of oil just to cover the surface. Let the oil smoke then once it does brown the pork belly slab skin side first, followed by the other sides.
  6. Now that the pork is browned lower the heat to medium, add the 2 tsp of dark soy sauce and 1 tbsp of water then coat the pork on all sides. Turn of the heat the let the pork cool down and rest on the wok, leave it for 30 minutes.
  7. Once pork belly has cooled down, remove the pork from the wok then slice the pork into ½-inch thick slices. Arrange the pork slices on a bottom of a shallow heat-proof bowl. Set it aside.
  8. Using the same wok, add 1 tbsp oil and the sugar, cook in medium heat until sugar has caramelised.
  9. Add the ginger then cook for 30 seconds.
  10. Add the drained preserved vegetables, stir until the caramelised sugar is evenly distributed.
  11. Pour the remaining Preserved Vegetables ingredients, give it another mix then bring it to boil then turn the heat off.
  12. Place the preserved vegetable mixture on top of the pork belly, covering the whole surface of the bowl hiding the pork beneath. Place bowl in a steamer then steam for 90 minutes.
  13. Remove bowl from the steamer, pour the liquid that was accumulated into the bowl into the same wok, around 3/4 cups. Add the dissolved cornstarch then mix.
  14. Turn back the heat on then thicken the sauce over medium heat.
  15. Cover the bowl of pork with your serving plate then flip it over onto the plate. Pour thickened sauce over the dish then serve.


5 Responses

  1. One of my favourites! Yours looks authentic and very yummy.

  2. Michelle says:

    Love this dish, one of my childhood favourites!! Looks great!

  3. It looks terrific – perfectly cooked pork belly and flavourful sauce!

  4. suituapui says:

    Oooo…I love this dish. We call the preserved vegetable mui choy. So good with mantao (steamed buns) or rice – I think I have a blogpost on this tomorrow or the day after.

  5. I’m fascinated by the dried, preserved mustard greens. I’ve never heard of such a thing, but will have to check my Asian grocery store to see if they have it. Otherwise, Amazon has it! What I love about a recipe like this is that other than the pork and the mustard greens, I have everything in the cabinet.

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