Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Pig Trotters in Vinegar

I know this is not a soup recipe but it is something I promised you.

Actually I learnt this when I went home to my parents' place in September. And after that I went travelling for business (first to Kerala, India and then to Singapore) so I didn't manage to share the recipe.

The cool part is, I took snapshots of the process so you can see how easy the entire process is.

My mother is a good cook (but then again everyone says this of their own moms).

My mom makes very good Nyonya kuih like kuih talam, kuih lapis, abok-abok, onde-onde and kuih seri muka. She used to supply to school canteens and she stopped doing it when I reach secondary school as she found the work tiring. My sisters and I used to help her pinch the edges of curry puffs - we used to do this while watching Incredible Hulk on TV! Back in those days (in the 1980s), the only channels we had were TV1 (RTM1) and TV2 (RTM2) and the only good shows were series like Incredible Hulk.

Anyway, my mom knows that pig trotters in vinegar is my favourite dish so whenever I visit, she will make it a point to cook it for me. That's how moms are. Well, at least Asian moms. Food is a representation of love!

This is a Cantonese version. My mom told me of a Hokkien version which has more vinegary taste than sweet taste.

Here's what you need:

2 pig trotters (front legs of the pig*)
* The front legs are less fatty than the back legs. You sometimes need to order this in advance from some butchers. About 2 front trotters chopped into chunky pieces will do. You will include the skin too. That's the best part of eating vinegared trotters! They become gelatinous and gooey after simmering so that is the best part.

1 bottle of black vinegar (which you can get from any supermarket)
For this recipe, my mom bought Pearl River Bridge brand of sweetened vinegar.

6-7 pieces whole ginger (peeled, washed and smashed)
Mom used young ginger for this recipe as we were just eating it as a dish. She told me that if we are cooking it for women who have just delivered babies, they must use old ginger (to get rid of 'wind').

And some rock sugar and salt to taste.

First, Mom heated up the pot with sesame oil. This is a fairly huge amount of sesame oil. I think it was about 2 -3 tablespoons.

Next she put in the ginger. Fry it for 30 seconds.

Next add 500 ml of water. Close the pot. Let the water boil.

Once the water comes to a boil, add the pig trotters and the entire bottle of vinegar. Add a few cubes of rock sugar too. Close the lid and let it boil for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, bring the fire down to low and let it all simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours or until the pig trotters are tender. Dish up and serve hot with steamed white rice.

The beauty of this dish is the longer you keep, the better it tastes! The end result should be a dark soupy gravy with pieces of tender pork.

If you have drunk up the gravy, worry not. You can add in more vinegar and simmer the dish again. I can drink the gravy like soup! The ginger pieces will also be tender and can be eaten too with the pork.

A dish like this can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

* My mom makes a version with chicken for my sister as she does not take pork. However, pork and chicken have different textures so chicken tends to be all meat and very little fat. The star quality of this dish lies in the fat content of the trotters. The fat content kind of 'glues' the whole dish into one truly yummy meal by itself. My favourite way of eating this dish is to scoop a bowl of it and eat it on its own, without rice.

I forgot to snap photos of the final result, excited as I was about the recipe!

You can view how a dish of pig trotters in vinegar looks like over at Audrey's blog (her version with eggs).