My family simply loves pig trotters so when my mum offered to teach me how to make traditional Cantonese braised pig trotters, I gladly took up her offer. I mean how difficult can making braised pig trotters be?
So the hardship begins even before the actual cooking. In order to get rid of the mushy pork and bloody taste, we have to treat the pig trotters. Put the pig trotters in a pot of water. The water should cover the pig trotters and add 2 big cloves of garlic and 1 block of ginger. You can leave the skin of the garlic and ginger on and lightly flatten them with the back of your chopper to release the juices which will help remove the smell of the pork.
Add in 3 tablespoons of rice wine
Once the pot of water starts to boil, you should see foam which has started to form on the surface of the water. These are all the unwanted protein which has the mushy smell of pork. You can switch off the fire and start cleaning the pig trotters. A few things to take note is any remaining hair on the skin of the trotters, if your butcher did a good cleaning, you shouldn’t be able to spot any hair left. However, if there are any hair, you should scrap it with a knife or burn it with a torch. Wash the trotters in tap water till the skin and meat look clean and tidy.
You will need to prepare the following condiments for the dish. Honey, Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, superior dark soya sauce, oyster sauce, mushroom seasoning and standard dark soya sauce. The difference between the superior dark soy sauce is that it is less salty and is more fragrant compared to the standard one.
You will also need 3 huge cloves of garlic and 1 thumb of ginger. You can slice the ginger into thick slices whereas, for the garlic, you can leave them as whole pieces without the skin.
Start by stir-frying the ginger and garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil.
You can put in the pig trotters once you can smell the fragrance from the garlic and ginger. Lightly stir fry the pig trotter till there is a slight browning of the skin. The meat does not need to be fully cooked as you will have to braise them.
Add 2 tablespoons of superior dark soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of standard dark soy sauce. Fry the trotter till they are lightly coated with colour. Add 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce and 2 tablespoons of Chinese cooking wine.
Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of mushroom flavouring
Stir fry the trotters till they are even in colour and you do not see any of the condiments
Add water to the pot till it covers the pig trotters slightly and brings the water to a boil. I have added hot water to shorten the boiling time. Once the water boils, you can leave the pot to simmer at low heat with the lid on.
About 1 hour later, you can add Japanese mushrooms which you have to soak beforehand as well as chestnuts which are soaked and peeled. The amount of mushrooms and chestnuts to add depends on your preference
Continue to simmer the pot for another 2 hours with the lid on.
At the last hour, you can change the fire to high heat to boil down the gravy without the lid. At this point, add 2 tablespoons of honey which is a replacement of sugar and stir well to make sure the honey is mixed throughout. You can taste the gravy at this point, if you like it to be saltier, you can add another tablespoon of superior dark soy sauce for taste. I have also added hard-boiled eggs at this point to have soy-braised eggs.
After braising the trotters for close to 4 hours, the gravy should be minimal and the trotters should be soft and well flavoured.
All other ingredients like the chestnut, mushrooms should be soft
The trotters will be glistening with collagen from the fats of the trotter and they should have a nice sheen to the skin and meat. This Cantonese version taste a bit different from the Hokkein version as we did not add five-spice powder. You can taste a heavier soy-based flavour which complements rice very well.