In my last post, I have shared how I made my roast pork at home using a fan-forced oven. I was hoping to keep some leftover for this post. But, it was so tasty and addictive that we ate all of it on the same day! Since I didn’t have any leftover, I made another roast pork so I can use for this recipe.
“Chai Boey” is a colloquial Penang Hokkien word. “Chai” means “vegetable”, and “boey” means “the tail end” or “last”. It doesn’t make any sense if we try to translate it literally into English. What it means is to use up the “leftovers” and traditionally for the Chinese “Hokkien” in Penang, “chai boey” is cooked using roast meats – such as, roast pork, roast chicken, roast duck – leftover from Chinese New Year, most importantly from the thanksgiving prayers to Jade Emporer, a supreme deity in the Taoist pantheon, on the 9th day of Chinese New Year, also known as the “Hokkien New Year Day”.
In Penang Hokkien, we call this most important day of year “tcheh kau” meaning “day 9”, “Hokkien lang seh jit” meaning “Hokkien people’s birthday” and also “pai ti kong” meaning “praying to the heavenly god”. This folklore of Penang Hokkien, whose ancestors originated from Fujian province in southeastern China believes their ancestors were saved by the Jade Emporer “heaven god” from genocide by ruthless enemies in ancient time by hiding in sugarcane plantations in their village. This is the most important and significant celebration for Penang Hokkien and is done on a grand scale at Weld Quay in front of “Chew Jetty” in Penang, Malaysia.
This post is to show you how I made our roast pork chai boey in my family, which I’ve learnt from my mother. This is my mother’s recipe. She hasn’t made it for many, many years since my father passed away. It is a family tradition and I intend to keep my family tradition. It is a clever way to use up all the remaining roast meats.
I have my written recipe below. The broth from the long hours of stewing the ingredients and roast meats is super tasty and yummy packed with flavours of saltiness, sourness and spiciness. Adjust the saltiness by adjusting the number of sour plums you add into the stew. The sourness can be adjusted based on the number of tamarind slices and the spiciness based on the number of dried chilies and bird eye chilies. That is the beauty of making your own “chai boey” at home. You can also catch up on watching my video. This is how I do it.
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How to make roast pork chai boey
- any leftover roast meats, preferably roast pork, roast chicken or roast duck
- a bunch of Chinese mustard green
- 2-3 small carrots. This is optional
- 1-2 tomatoes whole
- 1 red onion whole with its skin peeled
- 1-1.5 litre of water enough to cover all the ingredients for stewing
- 5 tamarind peels or adjust to taste for sourness
- 7 salted plums or adjust to taste for saltiness and sourness
- 10 dried chilies or adjust to taste for spiciness
- 2 Thai bird eye red chili. This is optional
- 2 lemongrass stalk bruised
- 1 thumb size ginger bruised
- 5 cloves of garlic
- Wash and clean the Chinese green mustard. Cut into halves to separate the stem and the leaves. Set aside
- Wash and clean the tomatoes
- Wash and clean the carrots. Cut into chunky bite pieces
- Place all the ingredients except tomatoes, mustard green and carrot in a claypot or a pot large enough to cook all the ingredients
- Add about 1 litre of water enough to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 20-30 minutes
- Remove and discard the onion. Add carrots and mustard green (only the stem bit). Lower the heat to medium and continue to stew for another 20 minutes
- Have a taste. Adjust accordingly to your own taste. Add the remaining mustard green (the leafy bit) and tomato. By this time, add a bit more water if necessary to cover the vegetables. If you add more water, make sure you bring the heat back up to high to boiling temperature, then lower it down once it’s boiling
- Continue stewing for another 15-20 minutes
- Ready to serve