Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. So my family was always looking for a way to stretch a buck. One way we did that was by growing a portion of our meats and vegetables. The times we did buy meats at the stores were normally the cheaper cuts, or when the store would have a sale. One of the things I remember my mom cooking is pig’s trotters. Or as we call them in North Florida, pig’s feet. I remember my younger brother and I thought they were gross. Being kids we’d always start laughing about stinky old feet until mom would get mad and tell us “it’s just bacon with extra fat”. Thinking back now she had us believing most of the pig was bacon. The cooking methods were always one of 2 ways. Either boiled in a pot of collard/mustard greens or rice; or pickled. (95% of the time they were boiled in our house.)
It wasn’t until years later when I was re-discovering parts of my past that I rediscovered the wonder that is pigs feet. Pig feet are low in fat and (the edible parts) are very high in protein, particularly Collagen in tendons and skin. This is very good for joints and skin health. Lets face it, as time marches across our backsides most of us could use all the help we can get!
The inspiration for this recipe came to me from a few of the YouTube Asian lifestyle/cooking channels like Xia jie from shanbei, Souped Up Recipes , 酒鬼小莉 Drunkard Lee and Maangchi (The Queen of Korean cooking!). Each of these channels give really great advise and great fun. (Mandy from Souped Up Recipes is great with comments too!)
The recipe might seem a little daunting to the western kitchen, but when you taste that succulent pork with the crisp fresh and/or pickled vegetables while the complex flavors dance across your taste buds it’ll all be worth it!
2 Medium Size Pork Trotters, Cleaned And Sliced, or Whole 5 Green Onions, Cleaned And Cut Into 2 Inch Sticks (Both Green And White Parts) 3 Inches of Fresh Ginger, Sliced And Unpeeled 1/2 Cup Chinese Cooking Wine 1/2 Cup Light Soy Sauce 1/4 Cup Dark Soy Sauce 5 Large Garlic Cloves, Cleaned And Cut Into 4th 1/4 Cup Chili Bean Sauce (Toban Djan) 3 Large Star Anise 1/2 Inch Cinnamon Stick 3 Black Cardamom Pods, Cracked 1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds, Roasted 1 Teaspoon Sichuan Peppercorns, Roasted 1 Teaspoon White Peppercorns, Roasted 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar 3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (Do Not Use Olive Oil)
- In a large stockpot place your pork trotters, 1/2 of the green onion and 1/2 of the sliced ginger.
- Cover with water until about 1 inch above your ingredients.
- Boil on medium high for 20 to remove impurities and any bits of bone fragment. As the water heats you'll notice some scum collecting on the top. Skim off the scum along with any extra oil and discard.
- After 20 minutes, place a large colander in your sink and turn the cold water on high to help reduce burns.
- Pour the entire content of your stock pot into your colander, rinse until room temperature and all scum is removed.
- Rinse the inside of your stock pot to remove any scum that maybe left and place it back on your stove top.
- Mix the brown sugar/oil together, pour into your stock pot and turn on medium high.
- Stir the oil/sugar mix every couple of minutes to insure the sugar does not burn before the caramel is made.
- Once your caramel is made add your pigs trotters, remaining vegetables and spices. Then cover with enough water until 1 inch above your pork trotters.
- Cook on medium high until the skin is gelatinous and easily pierced with a fork.
- Remove the pot from the burner and turn off the stove.
- Remove the pork trotters from the liquid and place them on a sheet pan to cool enough to touch.
- Using your impeccably clean fingers remove any bones and discard.
- Slice your pork trotters into bite size pieces and enjoy!
This recipe was written for the stove top, but you could easily use a slow cooker on high for about 4 hours. You could also use a multi-cooker on high for about 25 minutes. (These times are estimates only.)