After subsisting solely on the dining halls and restaurants on Grounds, I can’t help but grow tired of fast food and American-style Asian food. It often feels impossible to make the time to cook during midterms, but after relying on take-out for so long, a delicious, fresh meal suddenly becomes a necessity. One Chinese dish that I have been reminiscing about often is my mother’s homemade minced pork rice.
I remember when I was in middle school my mother always cooked minced pork rice for me, even after returning home from work late at night. She was able to do this because minced pork rice is such a quick recipe that does not take much effort. Moreover, it is a reliably tasty dish that is almost impossible to mess up.
Minced pork rice is a famous rice dish in Taiwan that has spread to dinner tables across Chinese households, albeit with some changes depending on the region. Traditional minced pork rice is served with pickles as a side dish, but people often use other vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and broccoli as their sides. The size of the pork pieces also varies by region — some regions cut the pork into larger pieces while others use very small pieces.
After thinking about this dish from my childhood, I asked my mother for her minced pork recipe and tried it myself. Her recipe was derived from the original Taiwanese one, but my mother changed it into a more Shanghainese style. I bought most of the ingredients from Kroger, except for the seasonings, which I bought from Foods of All Nations. The ingredients were all easy to find, and I didn’t have to spend much time making the recipe for it to end up tasting just like my mother used to make it. I am so excited to introduce it as follows.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 3 servings
- 7 ounces skinned pork belly
- 1 red onion
- 5 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 egg, optional
- 2 bok choys, or any kind of green vegetables you like
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cooking wine
- 2 star anises
- 1 ½ teaspoon rock sugar. You can use granulated sugar, but rock sugar is better.
- A handful of ginger and garlic
- 1 cup rice
- Soak mushrooms for two hours in advance. Then, wash thoroughly and dice to use later.
- Make your fried onions by peeling and finely shredding red onion. Mix with all the cornstarch. Heat a dash of your choice of cooking oil in a pan and fry the coated onions over medium-low heat until golden brown. Once done, mash fried onions with a spoon and set aside.
- Drain your onions and make sure to save the leftover onion oil for later steps. Wash and cut the skinned pork belly into one-inch-long, one-centimeter-wide strips.
- Blanch the pork pieces by putting them into a pot of cold water and setting the stove to high. Fish the pieces out after water boils for three minutes. You can do step five while waiting.
- Mince your ginger and garlic into cubes.
- Add a little of the onion oil to the bottom of a rice cooker. Then, add a little of the minced ginger and garlic, diced mushrooms, two tablespoons of fried onion and all of the blanched pork. Pour in the cooking wine, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, star anises, rock sugar and 400 milliliters warm water. Mix all the ingredients with a spoon and press the cooking button. If you do not have a rice cooker, you can also put all these ingredients listed above in a pot and cook on low heat, boiling for about 40 minutes.
- Boil bok choys for five minutes.
- Use another pot to boil an egg. I love coddled eggs, so I boil for five to six minutes. You can boil longer if you like. You can skip this step if you do not like eggs in your rice.
- Open the lid for the rice cooker or pot when there are three minutes left. Wait until the mixture, which should have a gravy-like consistency, becomes more dense.
- Serve the rice in a bowl, arrange the halved poached eggs and boiled bok choy and pour on the meat and gravy. Your minced pork rice is done!
An important point is to use warm water in step six. Since the blanched pork is hot, cold water will shrink the surface of the meat, resulting in the seasonings and spices not being able to penetrate the pork.
Minced pork rice is so delicious that I can barely find the words to describe it. The sauce is rich, the meat is tender and the rice balances the flavors so well that you can’t help but savor every bite. Whenever I eat this dish, I am fully immersed in the taste and forget all my other worries.
For those who have never made Asian food before, I strongly recommend you try this recipe as an introduction. It is easy to make and can give you a fabulous taste of traditional Chinese cuisine, and you can also customize it with different vegetables or sides. For those who do not like rice or find it inconvenient to cook, you can substitute rice for another staple base such as noodles, thin crepes or flatbread.
Additionally, the cooked minced pork is not as perishable as other fresh cuts, so I recommend you cook extra and store it in the refrigerator for five to seven days. That way, when you are busy with schoolwork and cannot find time to cook, just microwave the pork for 90 seconds and serve with some sides for a hearty and delicious meal.
Please take a photo of your meal and tag @cavalierdaily on Instagram if you try this dish — we’d love to see it.