First of all, gung hei fat choi everyone! This year is the year of the dragon, which, my mother claims, is supposed to be a great and prosperous year for everyone. I think we all need a bit of prosperity, yeah?
In China, they used to celebrate their wealth in the number of pigs they owned, so on Chinese new year, pork is the star. My Jah-Po is Hakka, so every year for our Chinese New Year dinner, she makes Pork and Yam, one of my most favourite Chinese dishes in the world. It really shows how simple, straightforward cooking can yield something amazingly delicious.
I got this recipe from my Jah-Po, sitting at my aunt's kitchen table, with my mother by my side translating Jah-Po's thick Jamaican accent. It's another one of those recipes that probably hasn't been written down before. It is more of a 'feel' recipe than a 'formula' one, if you know what I mean (to me, this makes it all the more special, cause the best recipes are shown and taught, not written down).
You could use pork loin instead of pork belly, if you don't want the extra fat. But, really, if you want this to be truly authentic and as tasty as possible, sacrifice your diet a bit and go for it. As my Jah-Po says, lean pork and yam is "trashy".
Pork and Yam
- 1.5 lbs pork belly
- 1 medium yam
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp red fermented bean curd (can find at your local Asian supermarket. I used Shanghai Double Happiness)
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
Place pork belly in a large pot and fill with water to cover. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil on medium high heat. Once water is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Let cook for 30 minutes.
Drain the pork and let cool. Once safe to touch, cut into 1 inch thick strips. Make sure the strips are short enough to layer later (I usually cut them about 4 inches long).
Peel the yam and cut in half width wise. Then, cut each half again lengthwise. Cut each quarter into strips, similar thickness to your pork strips.
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients to make a thick sauce. Add yam and pork and let sit for 30 minutes. After, layer the yam and pork horizontally in a large bowl, alternating between pork and yam (if your bowl isn't wide enough to fit all the pork and yam, feel free to continue with a second layer on top of the first).
Pour any leftover sauce over the pork and yam.
Fill a large pot, big enough to fit your bowl in, with about an inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer on medium low heat. Place the bowl (with your pork and yam) inside and cover with the pot's lid. Turn the heat to low and cook at a simmer for 2 hours.
Once cooked, remove the bowl from the pot. Serve immediately over rice or with good, crusty bread.