Sunday, 22 January 2012

Chinese New Year Pork and Yam

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
Serves 6

  • 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.


  1. Saw your post at food_porn! This looks delicious!

    As a side note, according to the fortune tellers I came across, the fortune breakdown isn't great for everyone, least of all dogs and dragons (since obviously, one's own year is always supposed to be a flux):

    Rat - A better turnaround than last year; hard work pays off.

    Ox - Good, if you keep your head cool and together and don't let haters get to you.

    Tiger - Good for business and ventures, careful about health and travel.

    Rabbit - Good for home and travel, stay out of other people's business.

    Dragon - Challenging and difficult; time of change.

    Snake - Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. Everything's coming up roses.

    Horse - Good personal stuff, but relationship challenges; traveling is abundant, but not for the best or happiest of reasons.

    Sheep - All good things, but only in moderation, otherwise...

    Monkey - Great year for you, but not as good for the people who help you get there, so be aware of your good luck.

    Rooster - Things are looking up, after last year; good travel and hosting, but keep an eye on relationships and don't let them get messy.

    Dog - Pretty awful in all regards, focus on communication, but sucks to be you.

    Pig - Even more sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, so look out for haters.

    1. Thank you! It's a really flavourful dish.

      Haha, well I suppose I'll count myself lucky that I'm a sheep and not a dog or dragon!

  2. The subject of this week's Food on Friday on Carole's Chatter is Pork. It would be great if you linked this in. This is the link .

    Ps I am now following you. Hope you like Carole's Chatter and follow me back!

  3. Great that you linked in. I put the title of the recipe in for you - Mr Linky isn't very clear in its instructions, is it? Thank you, too, for following Carole's Chatter. Cheers