Confinement Main Dish – Black Vinegar Pork Trotter

Confinement - 001 Black Vinegar Pork Leg edited re-sized

Confinement period is both medically and culturally recognised as a vital period for the new mum to restore her strength through special foods and strict regimes; and to focus on caring for her newborn.

In SE Asia, confinement is usually a 30 to 40-day period practised mainly by the Chinese, Malay and Indian communities. A new mum is re-conditions her body with the help of family members, hired doulas and perhaps masseurs.

Among the Chinese, this dish (猪脚醋) is so closely associated with a new mum’s confinement period that is can be said to be akin to “a horse and carriage”. Her mother-in-law has the time honoured task of cooking this dish and other confinement dishes. Some households believe that this dish should be eaten several times from the 12th day till end of confinement.

Health benefits commonly associated with this dish are numerous.  Black vinegar is believed to purify the body, stabilize pH levels and enhances digestion and energy. Old ginger warms the body, sesame oil is rich in vitamin E, iron and calcium and the collagen from the pig’s trotters  promotes good health.

Some Comments about the Ingredients

  • Pig’s Trotter There are 2 types of pig trotters, the front (猪手) and hind (猪脚). The front trotter tends to be bigger and meatier. My butcher advises that the hind trotter is less fatty and gives more collagen! Most Local butchers will know who to chop the trotter into a correct size.
  • Ginger. Ginger from either Indonesia or Bentong, Malaysia are more expensive but they give sweeter flavour and stronger fragrance. Some do not slice the large knobs of ginger but lightly smash them with the back of a cleaver. That makes it difficult to serve after this dish is cooked.
  • Black Sweet Rice Vinegar. Chan Kong Thye 陈公泰 is universally used to cook this dish.
  • Chinkiang Vinegar. This is used as an alternative to the “sweet” version of the  (besides the health benefits of vinegar, this adds tartness, gives balance and cuts through the richness of the collagen and pork),
  • Honeycomb Sugar. Light brown sugar is a good substitute.
  • Chinese black sugar (黑糖). This is believed to have more health giving properties than white or brown sugar.

Preparing the pieces of Pig Trotter

Blanching the pieces of pork trotters. After the pieces of pork trotters have been washed and drained, place them in a wok which is filled with about 1 litre of boiling water. Stir pieces in the boiling water for about 2 mins. Lift pieces onto a plate. Set aside.

Cooking the Dish

STEP 1. Heat wok on medium high heat for a short while, add 4 Tbsp sesame oil and fry ginger slices till they lightly caramelize. You will also smell the ginger smell and there will be a good balance of sesame oil and ginger smells. It takes about 7 to 10 mins.

STEP 2. Add blanched pork trotter pieces. Continue to stir fry ginger and pork for another  5 to 10 mins. Let sight and sense of smell confirm when to proceed to the next step, fragrance will permeate your nose which confirms stir frying may stop. Ginger continues to caramelize. Pork skin tightens more.

STEP 3. Lift the contents from the wok into the Thermal pot. Place pot onto stove over medium heat.

STEP 4. Add 300 ml of water, 2 types of sugar and 2 types of vinegar into the stainless steel Thermal pots.  Cover and cook over medium heat to melt the sugars and to bring mixture to boil. The ginger and pork should be almost submerged in the liquid. If not submerged, add as much of the rest of the water to do so. Cover and boil over medium heat for another 15 to 20 mins.

STEP 5. Lift Thermal pot/s into their host pot. Leave in the host pot for about 1 hour. Check to see how tender are the pork trotter pieces.  Add the peeled hard boiled eggs (photo below). Cover and bring contents of pot back to boil and continue to heat for another 5 mins. Lift pot back into the host pot. Leave in the host pot for another 30 mins or longer.  Dish is done when the pork trotter pieces are tender and gelatinous.

 

RECIPE ( using a Thermal Pot)

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pork trotter (front leg and not hind feet) weighing about 1.2 to 1.4 kg. Butcher cuts into smaller pieces. Blanch in hot water.
  • 6 to 8 hard boiled eggs, cooked and peeled
  • 1 kg of Indonesian or Bentong ginger. Peel using a metal spoon, slice cross-sectionally

Sauce Ingredients

  • 600 ml Bull Dog Black Sweet Rice Vinegar
  • 150 ml Chinkiang Vinegar
  • 650 ml water
  • 100 gms black sugar
  • 100 gms sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. sesame oil

METHOD

Preparation of the Ingredients

Preparing the Ginger

Wash and peel the ginger. You can either sun the ginger pieces OR spread the ginger pieces on a aluminium foil lined tray and grill them in the oven for 20 mins.  This process dries the ginger.

Preparing the pieces of Pork Trotters

Blanching the pieces of pork trotters. After the pieces of pork trotters have been washed and drained, place them in a wok which is filled with about 1 litre of boiling water. Stir pieces in the boiling water for about 2 mins. Lift pieces onto a plate. Set aside.

Hard Boil and Peel Eggs

Cooking the Dish

1. Heat wok on medium high heat for a short while, add 4 Tbsp sesame oil and fry ginger slices till they lightly caramelize. You will also smell the ginger smell and there will be a good balance of sesame oil and ginger smells. It takes about 7 to 10 mins.

2. Add blanched pork trotter pieces. Continue to stir fry ginger and pork for another  5 to 10 mins. Let sight and sense of smell confirm when to proceed to the next step, fragrance will permeate your nose which confirms stir frying may stop. Ginger continues to caramelize. Pork skin tightens more.

3. Lift the contents from the wok into the Thermal pot. Place pot onto stove over medium heat.

4. Add 300 ml of water, 2 types of sugar and 2 types of vinegar into the stainless steel Thermal pots.  Cover and cook over medium heat to melt the sugars and to bring mixture to boil. The ginger and pork should be almost submerged in the liquid. If not submerged, add as much of the rest of the water to do so. Cover and boil over medium heat for another 15 to 20 mins.

5. Lift Thermal pot/s into their host pot. Leave in the host pot for about 1 hour. Check to see how tender are the pork trotter pieces.  Add the peeled hard boiled eggs (photo below). Cover and bring contents of pot back to boil and continue to heat for another 5 mins. Lift pot back into the host pot. Leave in the host pot for another 30 mins or longer.  Dish is done when the pork trotter pieces are tender and gelatinous.

Comments

If you don’t possess a Thermal Pot, you can still cook this dish using either a Stainless Steel Pot or a Tanyu Pot. Do not pour the vinegar into the carbon steel wok to cook this dish. All ingredients will have to be transferred into the stainless steel pot or Tanyu pot for stewing to tenderize and infuse all flavours into the pork trotters.

Cooking times will vary so be more judicious in checking the stages of cooking..

Serving Suggestions

Serve with steamed rice. This dish is so popular that it is also served to diners who are not in their confinement month. It is not only appealing to female palates.

Depending on the number of people and their dietary preference at mealtime, this dish may be accompanied with any one or more of the meat, seafood and vegetable dishes listed below.

The suggested dishes may not all be suitable to those who adhere strictly to a complete Chinese confinement menu.

Chinese Soups

1. Jin Hua Ham and Winter Melon Soup. Click here.

2. Lotus Root, Peanut and Pork Ribs. Click here.

3. Radishes and Dried Squid. Click here.

4. Pork Stomach with Peppercorn (suitable for confinement). Click here

5. Tang Ho with Fishballs. Click here

6. Watercress and Red Dates. Click here.

Chinese Main Dishes

1. Spinach in broth with 3 types of eggs. Click here.

2. Pari Pari Chicken Wings. Click here

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

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

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

6. Shanghai Cabbage with Oyster Sauce and Garlic. Click here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s