It is the 3rd day of Chinese New Year 2017 and I wished to take this opportunity to wish all the readers a Happy and Prosperous Rooster Year. This is supposedly a Chinese New Year dish which I should have issued before Chinese New Year. However, due to time and energy constraints, I can only issue this recipe now and possibly readers may still need it as an elaborate dish for Chap Goh Meh (元宵节）dinner.
This is an auspicious dish and if you are wondering why at times, it is difficult to buy pig trotter before Chinese New Year, it is because some dialects especially the Hokkien believed that pig trotter or the front hock (猪手）signifies windfall gain (横财就手）。 Therefore, they bought a whole trotter to cook during Chinese New Year even without cutting into small pieces and this way of cooking is very common in restaurant also.. In addition, it also signifies reunion in some region such as the Jiangsu region of Zhouzhuang .
There is one night when I watched a Chinese documentary show introducing Suzhou cuisines, this special whole pig trotter aka wansan trotter (万三蹄）immediately captured my attention. To me, it looks ultra delicious and reminded me of the pig trotter dish served at restaurants. I Google for recipe, analyse the ingredients and I strongly believed that this recipe will be acceptable by my readers.
I rushed to the wet market to ask for a pork hock. I was late and there was only one trotter left that was suitable for the dish. Actually, it is rather difficult to buy a whole uncut trotter in Singapore market. Most butcher have already cut into smaller pieces and does not sell the whole pig trotter. I asked them to chop into the shape I wanted but it seems that they did not do the job well. The trotter after I cooked cannot stand on its own and as such for picture taking purposes, i have to lay it down on the plate.
This recipe is extremely simple. All the braising ingredients are simple common household ingredients that most families will accept. The only problem that readers may have is the time required for braising. Because I used pressure cooker to braise the meat, it is rather fast, and it took me only about 30 minutes to braise the whole pig trotter such that the meats fell off the bone. It is a prime requirement that the meat should be stewed long enough that it falls off the bone and the bone can easily be extracted out before serving. Otherwise, there will also be problem during serving. This is also explained by China Daily articles below
“Centuries-long history and profound cultural foundations endow Zhouzhuang with well-known dishes, represented by Wansan Pork Shank, a necessity used by Shen Wansan, a man of great wealth in the southern Yangtze River area, to treat his distinguished guests. As a local saying goes, “where there is a family feast, there is the dish of crisp Wansan Pork Shank.” Over several centuries, the dish, implying reunion, has become a main course at festival and wedding banquets in Zhouzhuang. Wansan Pork Shank is eaten in a unique style. The thinner bone of the two bones running through the shank is taken out gently, keeping the shank intact in shape. The art was dated back to the Ming dynasty. Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, out of intention of embarrassment, ordered Shen to cut apart the shank without a knife. Smart Shen adapted the above-mentioned method and took out the thinner bone. Emperor Zhu, touched by the great talent, said “let’s take it as a bone knife.” Since then, it has become a traditional pattern for Zhouzhuang residents to share the shank with the bone knife.” (Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/m/zhouzhuang/2010-03/05/content_9544251.htm)
“明初，相传当时朱元璋当了皇帝，于是全国都避讳说猪（朱）。有个有钱人叫沈万三，因为沈万三的富可敌国，朱元璋很是嫉妒，所以到沈万三家坐客，沈万三以猪蹄膀招待朱元璋，朱元璋看到后故意为难沈万三，问他这个怎么吃啊，因为是整个蹄膀，没有切开，如果沈万三用刀，那朱元璋就可治他的罪了(古时不可在皇上面前动凶器），而沈万三却灵机一动，从蹄膀中抽出一根细的骨头来，以骨切肉，保了自己的一条小命。也有了万三蹄膀的传统吃法．朱元璋吃了觉得很好吃，就问沈万三这道菜叫什么名字啊，沈万三一想总不能说是叫猪蹄膀呀，于是一拍自己的大腿说，这是万三蹄，于是万三蹄由此得名。” (Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/47647.htm)
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings : 4-6 adult servings
- 1 pig trotter of about 1 kg
- 10 shitake mushrooms, soaked
- Some vegetable green of your choice
Braising spices and ingredients
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 big slices of ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anises
- 3 cloves
- 1 medium size of rock sugar
- 1 teaspoon of five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorn powder (optional)
- 1/2 cup of dark soya sauce
- Adequate water to cover the pig trotter
- Salt to taste if necessary
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch mix with 5 tablespoons of water for thickening purposes
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch the pork trotter until external is set. Drain and throw away the water. Transfer to a bowl, add the dark soya sauce, five spice powder and Sichuan peppercorn powder. Lightly massage into the pig trotter and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.
- Put all the braising ingredients onto the pressure cooker pork, add soaked mushrooms, pork trotters and the soya sauces used for marinating, Add adequate water to cover the pork trotter and pressure cook for 30-45 minutes. The test of readiness is to ensure that the meat falls off the bone. Once done, drain the pork trotter and mushrooms and transfer to the serving plate . If you do not have a pressure cooker, the method of braising is the same over the stove. You may need to braise for at least 1.5-2 hours under medium heat before it falls of the bone. Slow cooker can be used also but it will take at least 5-6 hours.
- Sift all the braising sauce into a pan, using high heat and bring to boil. Let it simmer until the sauce thickens. For me, it took about 15 minutes to boil off half the water. The purpose of this step is to make the meat broth more concentrated and flavourful. If you boil over the stove, this step may not be necessary as your braising liquid will evaporate along the braising process.
- Add corn starch solution and stir until it reach your desired consistency. Thickening by adding starch is optional but it will make your dish more appetizing .
- In a pot, bring some water to boil. Add pinches of salt and oil to the boiling water. Blanch the vegetable for 2-3 minutes. Drain and transfer to the serving plate.
- Drizzle the sauce onto pig trotter before serving.
Trust me, this dish is simple yet delicious . In addition, it is very presentable dish for a feast like reunion dinner or chap goh meh. For those who are looking for pig trotter recipe, i hope you will give this recipe a try.
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