Sunday, January 29, 2012

Black Vinegar Braised Pork Hocks


Without realising it, January is almost coming to an end already. Is it me or the same with everyone else that the days and months seem to fly by so fast that I feel like I am always trying to squeeze in time for everything here and there and never have enough rest even during the weekends! While I long for Fridays to come by when Mondays start, the fact is I haven't even time to laze around when Fridays kick in and the alarm clock is already blaring 6am Monday morning. Oh well, like they say, time waits for no one and I will just have to run with the hours.
Today is the 7th day of the Chinese New Year celebration and I am almost a total failure this year for not having attempted any fancy Chinese cooking to celebrate the Dragon year. Not even made my annual Sticky cake that my kids love so much. Luckily there are still 8 days to redeem myself before the celebration officially ends on the 15th day which falls on Feb 6. On this 7th day, we are celebrating the birthdays of everyone. In short, it is celebrating and cherishing the meaning of life. Remember how I blogged about the Chinese being a very auspicious group that relates anything to everything, especially in terms of food? Well, I thought this dish will be very appropriate on this 7th day, not officially, but in my interpretation.

This dish is a type of confinement food served to Chinese ladies who have just given birth and the black vinegar together with the ginger are said to invigorate the body after labor and regulate the flow of the blood and the body system back to normal state prior to giving birth. I have eaten this dish too during my afterbirth with the 2 kids and I simply ate it by the pot. But eating too much of this can be heaty too and causes constipation. For people who loves the taste of pickles and fatty pork, this dish incorporates the best of both. I am not very sure on the origin of this dish as every ethnic group of the Chinese people do cook this dish. The black vinegar is only available at Asian stores, which tastes a bit malty and comes in sweetened or plain. Mine was plain and I had to add some brown sugar to the cooking to achieve a sweet and sour taste.

Recipe (Serves 4 with Rice)

Ingredients :
4 large pork hocks (about 2.5lbs), cleaned; 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled; 2 knobs of ginger, about the size of 2 thumbs, sliced thickly; 5 pips of garlic, sliced; 3/4 cup black vinegar; 1/4 plus 1/8 cups Dark Soy Sauce; 50g brown sugar (I used the Chinese block type); 1 & 1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking Wine; 1/2 tbsp Sesame Oil

Method :
  • Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a large pot. Tip in the ginger and garlic and saute for 1 min.
  • Add in the pork hocks, sesame seed oil and spread them out and mix in with the ginger and garlic. Add in 1 tbsp of water. Close lid and bring up the heat and let the contents sit for 3 mins.
  • Pour in the dark soy sauce and coat the hocks. Pour in the black vinegar and lower the heat to medium , close the lid and let the contents simmer for 45 mins. Open lid and stir the hocks around during the cooking to ensure even coating of the black soy sauce. Add 1/2 cup water .
  • The hocks shall be cooked to a soft texture, where the meat is easily snip apart with a pair of kitchen shears. After 45 mins of cooking, add in the brown sugar and the boiled eggs and close the lid and let it simmer another 15 mins.
  • Test and cut the meat, if it is falling off the bone, it is ready. Turn off the heat and let the contents remain in the pot for another 15 mins. This is so that the sauce will thicken from the gelatin released from the pork hocks and makes a thick gravy.
  • Serve with steamed vegetables and rice with the gravy poured over the rice.

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