Fan Wu Cai, or "Rice-Cooked Eggplant and Pork Belly", with Soy Eggs

4/22/2013 10:40:00 PM

Fan Wu Cai - Rice-cooked eggplant, rice-cooked pork belly, garlic/soy dipping sauce, stir-fried bok choy, rice
Fan Wu Cai is a homely Chinese dish of meat and vegetables, layered on top of rice, which steams and cooks as the rice cooks. Technically I think you can use any vegetables or meat you like (as long as they take the same amount of time to cook as the rice does), but I love the combination of pork belly and eggplant. It's so quick and easy! Just put it all in the rice cooker and let it cook away.

I got the recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice (which, as you know, is where I get almost all of my Chinese recipes, and indeed, many of my meals!) I was worried it would be bland, but it actually is very lovely, and even nicer when you serve it with the suggested dipping sauce of soy sauce and minced garlic.

As there aren't a lot of ingredients in it, Fuchsia says it's a good idea to use high quality ingredients - we happened to get an eggplant in our organic box that particular week, and I'd also received a sample of organic tamari from Spiral Foods - what more encouragement did I need?

I bought a strip of pork belly from my local butcher - it's labelled "pork rasher", and was less than $3 - bargain! The quantity below, with half an eggplant and one pork rasher, feed two generously for dinner, with enough for leftovers for me for lunch the next day.
Eggplant, pork, rice, water
As you can see, I cooked the above in a pot, and not my rice cooker. I have a very small rice cooker and thought that using a wider pot would allow me to place more delicious meat and eggplant on top! I don't know if you necessarily need a proper recipe, as it all seems pretty self-evident, but for the sake of completeness, here's how I did it:

Place one cup of rice and two cups of water in a saucepan. Slice half an eggplant and one rasher of belly pork into chunky slices, and layer on top of the rice. Place on the heat and bring to the boil, then clamp on the lid and turn the heat down to the minimum possible. Allow to cook for twenty minutes, or until the water is absorbed into the rice and everything is cooked through.

You could just leave it like that, serving it with minced garlic and soy sauce on the side for dipping... but I can never leave well enough alone. And anytime I think of pork belly and soy sauce, I automatically think hard boiled eggs (thanks to my dad's amazing tau yuu bak!), and seeing as I had that bottle of tamari anyway, I thought I could have a go making some soy eggs while the rice cooked! I just googled a recipe and adapted it to what I had on hand.
Soy eggs
Here's how to make soy eggs.

Hardboil some eggs, then peel. Whisk together a quarter cup of tamari, half a cup of water and a tablespoon of brown sugar in a small saucepan. Add the peeled eggs and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally so all sides of the eggs get to soak in the delicious sauce. Ta-dah!

I also made some bok choy to go with. Honestly, I don't really like bok choy, but we got some in the organic box, and I thought it would be a good idea to add some green veggies to the meal! I just chopped it up and stir fried it with chilli and garlic, finishing with a drizzle of sesame oil.
Bok choy
Here's the finished fan wu cai. Looks plain but tastes so good!

Soy eggs

I know these days we are all crazy for #yolkporn and gooey runny yolks, but I must say I actually prefer properly hard-boiled eggs! I loved these eggs so much... I regret not making more eggs because they are so frikkin good!

Here's the rice! It looks normal, but tastes better than normal rice, because the pork fat melts as it cooks, coating all the lovely grains of rice.

And here's my bowl! I added a bit of Vietnamese chilli-garlic sauce too. The meal was super tasty, so comforting and very easy. Get to it!

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  1. This all looks kind of amazing. Perhaps I could get behind eggplant, cooked this way...

  2. Pork fat in rice....mmmm.....

  3. Pork fat in rice...Mmmm...

  4. How have I never had this before? Looks soooo comforting!

  5. The rice sounds amazing-I love how the fat renders into the rice and melts into it! :D

  6. I don't eat pork (sorry :( ! ) what else would you recommend I use? Like the idea if one pot-wonder! First time commenter, long time reader, love your blog!

  7. Hannah - Oh you must try it! The eggplant goes all soft and is so lovely!

    Eliza - I know, right? Yummm!

    I-Hua - I wondered the exact same thing when I saw the recipe! Haha. It's so easy too!

    Lorraine - Give it a go, so easy and yum!

    Mel - Hmm, in Every Grain of Rice, Fuchsia suggests bamboo shoots as an alternative. How about thin slices of chicken, and Chinese mushrooms? :)

    xox Sarah

  8. Phwoar I will have to give this a go sometime - such an easy dish to make! We lived on pork belly strips in London because it was so cheap, but I do wonder what we did to our cholesterol during those years. lol!



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