For as long as I could remember, there were periods in the history of my family where there was a surge of baby arrivals: firstly, my cousins, and then their children, and now the grandchildren.
We took such occasions seriously. Almost every member of the family clan would be involved, especially the senior womenfolk. They would prepare all kinds of food for the new mother, each and every recipe meant for a specific remedy or safeguard -- replacing lost blood; preventing colds; fortifying the immune system. Among these, there was a dish that particularly stood out, Pig Trotter in Black Sweet Rice Vinegar.
This Cantonese traditional dish works as a supplement, boosting post-natal immunity to colds, and providing ‘heat’ for the woman’s depleted (and thus ‘cool’) bodily systems. It is also believed to aid lactation, ensuring more milk for the baby, and is consumed twice a day, with ginger, pig trotters and eggs.
The dish was so tasty that even the other family members would share it. A huge pot would be prepared throughout the first two months of the baby’s arrival, and the strong pungent smell of vinegar would linger in the air of our family house.
Nowadays, this dish is enjoyed throughout the year, with or without a baby being born. It takes about a month to cook and make ready for consumption, the long preparation period allowing for the vinegar and ginger to mature and mellow. Cook it with love and patience -- and it will soon turn into a dish worthy of celebration!
PORK TROTTER VINEGAR
Ginger 1.5 kg, peel and bash ginger with a cleaver
Mirin 500 ml
Black sweet rice vinegar 1.5 litres
Salt 1 tbsp
Brown sugar 350 g
Bay leaves 6
Pork trotter 2 kg, clean and chop into chunks
Water 1.5 litres
- Soak ginger in mirin for 3 hours. Drain and lay ginger in the open to dry. Keep mirin for later usage.
- Boil black vinegar with salt for 10 minutes. Add ginger, mirin and boil vigorously for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep in a cold corner for the next 7 days.
- After 7 days, boil ginger mixture for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and keep in a cold corner for the next 7 days. Repeat this twice.
- Blanch pork trotter in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and wash trotter thoroughly. Boil pork trotter in 1.5 litres of water for 1 hour. The water should reduce to 1 litre. Remove trotter from stock. Sieve stock before proceeding to Point 5.
- Mix pork stock, brown sugar with black vinegar. Boil vigorously for 15 minutes. Add pork, bay leaves and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Boil eggs in boiling water for 2 minutes 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and cover the pot for 2 minutes. Transfer eggs to icy water for 1 hour. Peel eggs, drain thoroughly and set aside.
- Turn off the heat of black vinegar, remove bay leaves and rest for 30 minutes. Add eggs and keep overnight.
- Remove eggs and reheat the black vinegar again.
- Serve pork trotter vinegar hot with egg separately.