The strong flavours from the olives and mustard greens meld together and mellow during the long hours of cooking, creating something that tastes like olives, but better. It's more complex, more nuanced, rounder, smoother . . . an absolute delight with plain rice porridge, straight out of the bottle. But I would say that, wouldn't I? I'm Teochew and "olive vegetables", aka 乌橄榄菜, is a Teochew specialty. It's one of our many ways of preserving vegetables.
Honestly though, I swear I'm not biased. Why would anyone eat an oily, inky black mush – since the Sung dynasty, apparently – unless it tastes really good?
Making 乌橄榄菜 is a long, tedious process. Want to see how it's done in China? Here's a video – in Teochew (!) with Chinese subtitles – on a school teacher turned farmer turned businessman who's made good producing 乌橄榄菜 (catch him around 3:40 looking mighty pleased with himself as he relates his success story):
The weather's been really hot lately, so hot I can't fathom the thought of eating rice. Give me porridge, please! Porridge is so much lighter, and requires less effort since no chewing is necessary. I also can't fathom cooking anything elaborate in this heat. The quicker, the easier, the better. And nothing is quicker and easier than stir-frying minced pork with 乌橄榄菜. I don't have to cut anything except for a few cloves of garlic. Which takes all of five seconds if you whack 'em hard with a cleaver à la Martin Yan. The pork, because it's minced, takes all of two minutes to cook. It's done before I get all hot and bothered. Now that's what I call a cool dish for a hot day . . . . On second thought, it's cool for any day!
|MINCED PORK & OLIVE VEGETABLES STIR-FRY (肉脞炒乌橄榄菜)|
(Recipe for 4 persons)
60 g 乌橄榄菜
(I use Sin Guo brand which isn't very salty)3 large cloves garlic, peel and mince coarsely
300 g coarsely minced pork
light soya sauce to taste, 1 tsp or so
Drain 乌橄榄菜, reserving oil. Heat wok till very hot. Add 1 tbsp oil. (Discard the rest, or maybe keep it for a salad.) Heat till very hot. Add garlic. Stir-fry till translucent over medium heat. Add 乌橄榄菜. Stir-fry till fragrant and garlic is lightly golden. Increase heat to high; wait a few seconds for wok to heat up. Add minced pork. Stir to break up lumps. Keep stirring till pork is opaque and cooked, 2-3 minutes. Taste, then season with light soya sauce if necessary. Mix well. Turn off heat. Push pork to one side of wok to drain off excess oil. Plate, minus oil. Serve with rice or porridge.