Confinement Soup – Pork Stomach Peppercorn

Confinement - Main Photo Pork Tripe edited re-sized

Chinese believe in the therapeutic effects of this soup. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes it warms our stomachs, invigorates middle qi, speeds up recovery from ulcers, and treats deficient lower jiao syndrome.

My grandmother and helpers in my father’s home taught us that different parts of the pig’s offals should be double-boiled for several hours with different herbs and spices to fortify our bodies and organs to ensure their proper function. We enjoyed this peppery, hot, deep flavoured rich soup once in while in my father’s household. As kids, we were not at all bothered about any TCM. This body fortifying soup is also served during confinement to the new mother.

For my uninitiated readers, when the pig’s stomach is raw there is certain stench to it from the mucous membrane and slime but when it is cooked it is super mild, like white meat. Texture wise, it is very firm and chewy so it requires stewing.

Cleaning the pig’s stomach does take some effort. My precious Filipina helper and my current helper cleaned it in a quicker way. Below are photos detailing this quicker method. No tapioca flour nor lemon juice is needed.

Some Comments about the Ingredients

Please excuse my blooper – photo above doesn’t show the 2 cloves of garlic.

  • Pig’s stomach – some supermarkets sell it cleaned and cooked. I have not tried using them for this recipe. Even though I love short cuts, but not for this soup!
  • chicken thighs and meaty pork ribs. They are good substitutes for each other but a mixer of both renders a soup of deeper flavour.
  • fresh gingko nuts. These are now available peeled and vacuum packed. Canned ones are NOT suitable.

Before adding them into the pot for stewing, I fill a teabag or two with the partially crushed whole peppercorns for convenience. Be careful not to over pack each bag since these peppercorns expand as the soup is stewed. At a local Chinese apothecary, they sell muslin bags for double boiling herbs and these are suitable too.

Cleaning the Pork Stomach

Here is a video clip (https://youtu.be/zw5UoCNWvX4) which shows how my grandmother and the cook in my father’s home used to clean a pig’s stomach from the wet market. Lots of water was used and it was a lengthy process. Yes, whilst it was being cleaned, there was also a certain smell in the kitchen.

Fortunately, the fresh pigs’ stomachs (or tripe) which are sold by the butcher in the wet markets, supermarkets or Asian groceries nowadays are much cleaner!

Hence, this is my helper’s way of doing it. It is less lengthy. The slime from the digestive juices are scrapped away rather than washed away with lime juice or lots of tapioca flour and salt.

STEP 1. Place the stomach on a chopping in the kitchen sink. Using a paring knife, gently scrape away the any fat and slime on the outside of the pig’s stomach. Then turn the pig’s stomach inside-out and continue scrapping away the slime (see photo above).

STEP 2. Stick your fingers into the ends of the stomach. Stretch those 2 ends of the stomach that were attached to the small intestine and the pig’s gullet. Continue to scrap away the slime gently. Run tap so that water flows at a slow stream so that you can wash once in a while.

REPEAT Steps 1 and 2 at least twice. Photo below shows the it is much less slimy the 2nd time round.

STEP 3. Illustrated by photo below. Place stomach into a large basin, add a large tablespoon of salt and knead. Wash. Feel for any sliminess. If it is still slimy, scrap judiciously and wash with salt one more time. By now, all the smell should be gone.

STEP 4. Boil a large kettle of water. Wash the basin and replace cleaned pig’s stomach. Hold the stomach open and carefully pour hot water into the stomach. Let it fall into the basin and blanch with more hot water. Leave it for about 10 mins. Carefully squeeze out the hot water. Run it under the tap to cool stomach.

Viola – stomachs are now clean and ready for the pot!

Cooking the Soup in the Thermal Pot

STEP 1. Divide all the ingredients (cleaned pig’s stomach, blanched pork ribs, chicken thighs, tea bags of crushed peppercorns, cloves of garlic) into two Thermal pots. Pour 1.5 litres of water equally into those pots (should only three quarters full), cover and heat them over medium high heat. Cook contents for 15 mins.

STEP 2. Remove the pots and place them one on top of the other into their holder. Close cover  and set aside for 1.5 hours.

Source: Mdm Ng Siong Mui

RECIPE

Serves 4 to 6 persons

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh pig’s stomach, cleaned
  • 40 gm whole white peppercorns, washed and drained and slightly crushed with a mortar and pestle and filled into 2 tea bags.
  • 300 gm meaty pork ribs, blanched
  • 300 gm chicken thighs (about 2 large thighs)
  • 2 cloves garlic, washed
  • 1 packet of ready peeled fresh ginko nuts
  • 1.5 litres water ( add 300 ml more if you are not using a thermal pot )

Seasoning

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce

Method:

1. Wash and blanch the pig’s stomach in the manner described above.

2. Wash and blanch the meaty pork ribs with boiling water as well.

3. Divide all the ingredients (pig’s stomach, blanched pork ribs, chicken thighs, tea bags of crushed peppercorns, cloves of garlic) into two Thermal pots. Pour 1.5 litres of water equally into those pots (should only three quarters full), cover and heat them over medium high heat. Cook contents for 15 mins.

4. Insert the thermal pot into the holder and close the outer cover. Leave contents for 1.5 hours.

5. Check the tenderness of the pig’s stomach and other meats. It is likely that your chicken thighs will be fork tender enough to lift them carefully out of pot into a separate bowl and set it aside. Add the gingko nuts and bring the contents of the thermal pot to boil for 10 mins. Replace thermal pot into the holder again and leave them for another hour.

6. Most likely, your pig’s stomach will be fork tender by now. Remove the 2 tea bags of peppercorns but give them a squeeze to extract all the soup (use 2 tablespoons to do this). Lift pig’s stomach out and cut into thick slices. Season and adjust seasoning according to your taste buds. Add the chicken thighs back into soup and heat all the contents in the thermal pot for about 5 mins, bringing all meats and gingko nuts to the same temperature.

7.  Divide the meats, gingko nuts and pieces of pig’s tripe into several bowls and pour hot soup into each bowl. Optional – garnish with a sprig or 2 of fresh parsley.

Serving Suggestions

This soup is rich so I would suggest that it be accompanied with lighter dishes unless it is served to a mother for her confinement or at special occasions.

The dishes listed below are not the typical confinement food but they are nonetheless nutritious. More confinement dishes will be posted later.

Seafood dishes

1. Dry Assam Seafood. Click here

2. Fried Fish with Fermented Black Bean Sauce. Click here.

3. Stuffed You Tiao (Baked).  Click here.

Meat dishes

1. Cha Siu or BBQ Pork. Click here.

2. Pari Pari Style Chicken Wings. Click here.

Vegetable Dishes

1. Broccoli and Meat/Tofu Stir Fry. Click here.

2. Spinach in Broth with 3 types of eggs. Click here.

3. Pork, Spinach and Egg Stir Fry. Click here.

4. Shanghai Cabbage with Oyster Sauce & Garlic. Click here.

Dessert

The only one which is suitable for confinement is

1. Sweet Potato Dessert Soup. Click here.

whilst these are not suitable for confinement.

1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

3. Sago Pudding. Click here.

4. Orange Agar Agar. Click here

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