Spicy Szechuan Vegetables with Minced and Pork Belly
This is a childhood classic for me. I remember the nanny cooking this for lunch on a few occasions, although I can’t really remember the details of what she cooked though, I mean who can? It’s been so many years. Alright, I know I said I had a photographic memory before, but this is different.
So when she told me that it was from Szechuan province, from a far away place and that it traveled very far to get to our home. It was a little unbelievable at first. She said that everyone from that place simply loves and adore the vegetable, and that they would eat it day and night. I thought that they must be extremely proud and sad at the same time eating it. I mean I would be proud knowing that the world was eating my “vegetable”, but yet at the same time, I would be sad because everyone in the world would think that it was all that we ate all day. There was probably nothing much else to eat. Of course I am sure they do eat other vegetables but as a child, we thought in absolutes.
Years past and the dish has become commonplace in many cai fan 菜饭 places. Some places do it well while others just cannot make it. Anyway, wifey wanted to eat this dish and since we had the szechuan vegetable in the fridge, I thought that it was also good time to cook it.
My rendition of the classic dish is to add pork belly and minced pork with some chilli padi and a dash of dark soy sauce. I bought my szechuan vegetable from the wet market, which basically meant that it was likely to be spicy and very high in salt content. There are different types of szechuan vegetable that are being sold in the supermarkets and these are already shredded nicely for the cook and they are not so salty. They come in a variety of spicy and non-spicy which really helps if you want to make a non-spicy version.
half a dollop of Szechuan Vegetable – purchased from the wet market, high in salt content and spicy
100 grams of Pork Belly – following from the recipe for preparing boiled pork belly
150-160 grams of Minced Pork
a tbsp of Dark Soy Sauce
4-5 pcs of Garlic
4 pcs of Chilli Padi
1. Soak the szechuan vegetables in a bowl of hot water. I realised that it is better to slice them thinly first before soaking. This would help a lot. Recommended to soak at least 30 minutes. While that is soaking, mince the garlic and heat up the oil in the wok. Fry until fragrant.
2. Add in pork belly and fry, moderate the heat to a medium. Then add the minced pork and fry until the colour just change which suggests that it is semi-cooked. Then add in the shredded szechuan vegetable along with the shredded chilli padi. Fry the dish until it is more or less cooked, then add a dash of the dark soy sauce and continue stirring. The end result should look a little bit like the picture below.