Considering that The Chinese Cook Book by Wallace Yee Hong was published in 1952, the dizzying variety of rare and obscure ingredients referenced therein is absolutely remarkable. Dried lilies, dried oysters, Chinese red cheese, lotus roots, snow white fungus, bitter melon–the list goes on and on. Clearly, Hong was not interested in pandering to an ‘out-of-depth’ American audience. Thank god for that. The result is a collection of recipes that feels boundless in its potential.
And, in truth, I have only barely begun to scratch the surface of some of the more obscure recipes in the book but whenever I come across one that looks particularly peculiar or unique I make a note of it for later on. Such was the case with this dish for “Hom-Toy Chow Gee-Yoke” or ‘Pork with Pickled Mustard Greens.’ Pickled mustard greens, an ingredient I didn’t even know existed until I picked up this book but in my mind it conjured a kind of synthesis of kimchi, bok choy, and well, mustard. And that’s exactly what it tasted like as well. I honestly don’t remember ever coming across this dish in a Chinese restaurant but, then again, I probably wasn’t looking for it. The closest comparison I can think of would be the kimchi and pork pairing you often find in Korean restaurants. And, like in those Korean dishes, the bright acidity of the pickled mustard greens balances the savoury pork protein nicely. I enjoyed the underlining curry flavouring as well which provided just enough complexity to the overall dish. An enjoyable, off the beaten path dish that could easily become your new comfort food favourite.
1 lb pickled mustard greens
1 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 lb pork, sliced thin
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 soup stock
- Slice mustard green thinly. Wash thoroughly in cold water and squeeze dry.
- Mix together ginger, rice wine, and soy sauce.
- In a separate bowl mix together vinegar and sugar.
- In a third bowl, mix together cornstarch, curry powder and 2 tbsp water.
- Cook the mustard greens in a skillet until dry and set aside.
- Heat peanut oil in hot skillet. Stir fry pork until it turns colour. Add the ginger sauce and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the mustard greens and soup stock and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes. Add vinegar sauce and simmer for another minute.
- Finally, add the cornstarch slurry and cook until sauce thickens.