Apr 27, 2013

Ground Pork Stir Fry with Chinese Pickled Mustard Greens - 酸菜肉末

Chinese mustard greens (gai choi) can be transformed and used in many different ways. There are fresh mustard greens, pickled, dried, and aged. In addition to that, the root, leaves, and even flowers can all be seen in Chinese cuisine. However, all these different parts and processed results carry totally different names in Chinese, none of them sound anything similar to "mustard green." 

For instances, 菜心 Choi Shin, which literary translate as the hearts of veggies, is in fact the root of mustard green. 酸菜 Suan Choi, which means sour veggies, is the result of fresh mustard greens being sun dried and pickled for weeks. That's why I didn't realize that all these different dishes I grew up with were in fact coming from the same root - Chinese mustard greens.

Usually you can find pickled mustard greens packed in airtight bags in Asian or Japanese markets. However, I always have my doubt on the preservatives used for pickled items in airtight bags. Even back in Asia, the all natural ones are not as easy to come by because they get spoiled in about a week if not stored in the freezer. Well, at least I'm not eating it all the time. Let's just stick with these already made packs before I learn how to pickle the veggies myself.

Ground pork stir fry with Chinese mustard greens -

  • 1 pound of ground pork
  • 1 pack/250 grams of pickled mustard green
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 5 fresh red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimps
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese chili sauce
  • Some soy sauce


Gently rinse the dried shrimps and soak in room temperature water for about 10 minutes. Once done, drain well and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Chop into tiny pieces and add into the pan.

Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Chop and discard the chili stems, finely chop the rest. Take out the pickled mustard green and finely chop it.

Add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan with dried shrimps and turn to medium heat. Cook till the oil starts bubbling then quickly add in chopped garlic, chilies, small pinch of salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Don't wait for too long before adding in the garlics and other ingredients because the dried shrimps can get crazy after the oil starts to bubble. You know, the usual oil bursting and shrimps flying scene in the kitchen.

Cook just right before the garlic start to burn, add in ground pork, tiny amount of soy sauce just to color the meat, and granulated sugar. You can also add in some Chinese chili sauce if desired.

Give it a quick stir, the pork fat should starts to render, but just keep cooking till all the juice has been reduced. Do not over-season the food yet since the pickled mustard green already contains quite amount of salt. Lastly, add in chopped pickled mustard green, give it a quick stir and cook for couple more minutes.

Now you can taste it and see if any more seasonings are needed. The sugar used in this recipe helps to balance out the acidity from the pickled mustard greens. That way you get a milder sourish flavor instead of an instant pungent kick from it.

This dish is good with steamed rice. You can also mix it with dry noodles along with a few more dashes of soy sauce, black vinegar, and sesame oil.

Similar Chinese Stir Fry Recipes:

Apr 21, 2013

Savoy - Probably the Best Place to Go for Your Hainan Chicken Rice Fix

I'm not sure about other areas, but here in Southern California, when people crave for Hainan chicken rice, pretty much 50% of the Asians will recommend this place - Savoy Kitchen.

The other 50% of the Asian population probably never heard about Savoy's existence or have never tried such a dish.

Not so sure about how this place got famous for its chicken rice in the first place. After all, Savoy is in fact older than me and its business has been prospered since 1982.

Hainan chicken rice is not the only thing available in the restaurant. It's more like a Hong Kong cafe, where you can find other varieties such as curry stew, casserole, pasta, or even pizza. However, you'll notice that at least 80% of the customers have their own plate of chicken rice when walking into Savoy.

The restaurant itself is pretty small. After an average 30 to 40 minutes wait, I've always got the outdoor table except my last visit. The indoor seats, especially the counter area with bar stools are actually quite nice. The reason is that the waiters and waitresses are right in front of you. Not only you can sneak peek into the kitchen, but you can also get first hand service instantly. Remember, this place is always packed with people and things like asking for sauce refill or check can be quite a task sometimes.

 Hainan chicken rice $6.95 - 

Usually it comes mixed with both dark and white meat. However, customers can request for particular type if desired. A true Asian will definitely go for all dark meat, which has more flavor and juicier compared to part like chicken breast.

The rice itself was cooked with all the essence from the chicken, that's why people love this stuff. To enhance the taste, grated ginger, sweet soy sauce, and chili sauce can be used as condiments.

Shrimp rolls $5.50 -

Some regulars here also often order baked escargot with herb butter as one of the appetizers ($4.95).

Iced tea with lemon $2 -

This picture was taken after we left the restaurant and apparently I wasn't fast enough to snap a shot while the cup's still full. The waitress in charge of the counter area was very nice and offered to refill the cup before I left the place.

I've got the chance to try the real authentic Hainan chicken rice when visiting Singapore. During the trip, I've tried at least 3 famous Hainan chicken joints. Frankly speaking, Savoy Kitchen is not that far away from these original restaurants besides the one in Maxwell Food Center called Tian Tian. If you ever followed Anthony Bourdain's show, Tian Tian is the one he visited and praised about how juicy chicken is along with rice packed with aromatic flavors.

If you ever crave for Hainan chicken rice and happened to be in southern California, come to Savoy.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Savoy Kitchen
138 East Valley Boulevard
Alhambra, CA 91801
(Between Garfield Avenue and New Avenue)
(626) 308-9535

Open Monday - Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Closed Sunday

*Cash only
*15% gratuity will be added automatically to parties with 5 or more people
*Parking spaces can be found on the street or around the residential neighborhood behind the restaurant 

Apr 14, 2013

Baked/Roasted Pork Belly (Asian Style)

It's been a stressful week so please allow me to quickly update the blog here without my usual mumbling and whining (which might be a good thing for y'all).

Baked/roasted pork belly Asian style -

  • 1lb of pork belly
  • Some bak choy
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of black bean soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/8 cup of rice cooking wine
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 dried chilies
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 stalk of scallion
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black sesame oil


Put the Sichuan peppercorn and dried chilies into a pan and toast them slightly, just like toasting pine nuts.

Peel the garlic cloves and discard the scallion stem. Mix all the marinade ingredients together.

Pour the marinade into a pot and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes.

Wait till the marinade cools down then pour it all over the pork belly to start the marinating process. If you can't find a perfect sized container, Ziploc always comes in handy.

Remember to turn it around half way through to ensure the other side gets marinate evenly as well. Leave it in the fridge for at least 6 hours, overnight preferably.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a baking pan or make one with tin foil. Transfer the pork belly and the marinade into the container. Only the juice gets to stay, you can discard the solid ingredients such as garlic cloves and scallion. If your pork belly comes with skin on one side, make sure the skin side or the fattier side is on the top.

Into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Lastly, turn up the temperature to high heat or boil. Let the heat sear the top of the meat for 3 to 5 minutes. This will create a thin and slightly burned layer, which adds much more flavor to the pork.

Let it cool down for about 10 minutes before cutting into 1/2 inch slices.

Blanch the bak choy and use it to garnish the plate. After all, we need some veggies to cut off the fat right?

Drizzle the remaining juice all over the pork slices before serving. The pork is not spicy at all. Instead, you can feel a gentle numbing sensation because of the Sichuan peppercorn.

This pork belly recipe will be perfect for ramen or you can serve it with steamed white rice.

Apr 7, 2013

Taiwanese Style Stewed Pig's Feet - 滷豬腳

Taiwanese style stewed pig's feet for those who miss traditional Taiwanese food here in the states -

We all have our own preferences especially when it comes to the comfort food we grew up with. For instance, some might like their pastas with meat balls and some might like it with ground beef instead. As for pig's feet, some like the skin to be chewy and some like it to be fork chopsticks tender; some like it cooked with soy beans and some like it with heavy soy sauce seasonings. My version gives you semi dark pig's feet with skins fall right off the bones.

Ingredients (for a medium/large pot)?
  • 3 pig's feet
  • 1 to 1.5 lbs of fatty pork chunks
  • 2 leeks (or 2 bundles of garlic sprouts)
  • 1 stalk of scallion
  • 1 whole garlic or about 1 dozen garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup of high quality soy sauce
  • 5 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons of black bean soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 fresh red chilies
  • Some sea salt
  • Some olive oil



I actually mixed some fatty pork with pig's feet. That way people who are not in the mood of chewing between toes can still enjoy this meal. On top of that, I got those pig's feet from Whole Foods since I always doubt the quality of meat from local Chinese grocery stores. At least the ones from Whole Foods were labeled as "vegetarian" with no antibiotics or hormones. Ask the butcher to cut the feet into large chunks for you.

Thoroughly rinse the feet chunks and cut the fatty pork into large and thick slices or chunks. Make sure to pluck out any hair from the feet before cooking. Prepare a big pot of water and carefully add in the meat. Slowly bring to a boil and let it cook for another minute or two to draw out the dirty bits from the meat.

Drain well and rinse the meat with water, make sure no more dirty bits are present.

Remove and discard the bottom stems from the leeks. Garlic sprouts are actually preferred for this recipe, unfortunately I couldn't find any at that moment so I used leeks instead. Make sure to rinse every layer of the leeks where sands might be trapped in between. Pat dry and chop into large chunks.

Remove and discard the bottoms stem from the scallion. Remove and discard the stems from the chilies and hit it a few times with the side or back of the knife. This will help releasing the aroma without having the seeds flowing everywhere. Peel the garlic cloves.

Take a big pot and drizzle just enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom. Add in the leeks, scallion, garlic cloves, and chilies along with some sea salt.

Sear for few minutes and give it a few stirs in between. Cook until the greens softened.

Add in brown sugar and cook till that slightly sweet aroma comes out. Add in all the meat and sear the sides for couple minutes.

Pour in the soy sauce, black bean soy sauce, and hot water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to let it simmer. Remember to skim off any foamy or dirty pieces floating on the surface. Check more often in the first 30 minutes and there should be very little or no more dirty bits throughout the remaining cooking time.

Early on -

Try to have all the ingredients covered under the liquid in the beginning. You might have to turn the meat around once a while towards the end making sure all sides are seasoned evenly.

About 1 hour into the stewing process -

About 3 hours -

Around 3 to 4 hours, I turned off the heat and let the whole pot cooled down a bit. Covered with lid and into the fridge for 12 hours or overnight.

That way you'll have darker and more flavorful stew in the end (like the one showed in the very first picture).

Enjoy with steamed white rice!