Friday, August 19, 2016

Salted Chinese Mustard Greens with Red Chiles, Garlic and Ground Pork ("Red-in-Snow" - Xue Li Hong)

I'm not sure why this dish is called "Red-in-Snow" in Chinese. As a kid, I assumed that the red chiles had something to do with it but couldn't figure out where the snow part came in. Regardless of the origin of its mysteriously quaint name, this dish was a beloved staple of my childhood . The salty, slightly bitter taste of the chopped greens along with a hint of heat from the chiles is sooooooo good with a bowl of steamed white rice! Pre-salted mustard greens are actually widely available in most Chinese markets here in LA, but I learned how to do this ridiculously simple process by watching my Ah-ma (grandma) do it back in the '80s when she lived with me and my aunt in Montebello. We usually didn't add any meat back then, but I occasionally like to add ground pork for a more substantial dish.
2 lbs. Chinese mustard greens (Jie Cai or Gai Choy)
2 tbsp. kosher salt 
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large Fresno chiles, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. ground pork (optional)

1. Cut the ends off of the mustard greens and separate the leaf stalks. Slice each leaf stalk lengthwise into thin strips, then cut crosswise into fine dice.

2. Place the chopped mustard greens into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. kosher salt (DO NOT OVERSALT). Using your hands, mix thoroughly and let sit for 30 minutes. 

3. Rinse the greens under running water in a colander then squeeze dry; set aside. At this point, you can place the greens in a Ziploc bag or container and refrigerate for up to a week before using. 

4. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a saute pan. Add the minced garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add the ground pork and cook, stirring well to break up the meat, until the pork has just lost its pink color (about 5-7 minutes). *

5. Add the mustard greens and stir fry 1-2 minutes; season with 1 tbsp. of sugar and stir in the sliced chiles. 

6. Serve with steamed white rice. 

*NOTE: Feel free to omit the meat if you prefer all veggies.

 Chinese Mustard Greens (Gai Choy in Cantonese or Jie Cai in Mandarin).

 Rinse the mustard greens then cut off the lower root end of the stem and separate the leaves. Cut each leaf lengthwise into strips, then chop crosswise into small dice.

 Place the chopped mustard greens in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.

 Mix the salt and greens together well with your hands and let sit for 30 minutes.

 Rinse the greens in a colander under running water.

 Squeeze dry (I use my hands to do that) and set aside. At this point, the greens will keep for up to a week before using - just place in a Ziploc bag or container covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

 Minced garlic and sliced Fresno chiles.

 Saute the minced garlic in 2 tbsp. oil for a few seconds until fragrant.

 Stir in the ground pork and cook until the pork has just lost its pink color.

 Add the mustard greens.

 Stir fry the mixture until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; stir in 1 tbsp. sugar.

 Toss in the sliced chiles and remove to a serving platter.

 Serve with steamed white rice on the side.

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