Whenever I visit my relatives at their small village in China, I learned that the food they eat was the true definition of “fresh food”. Vegetables were picked from the garden and meat was obtained from the livestock that you saw running around outside on your way into the house. I had the opportunity to butcher poultry, something you rarely get to do if you’re in a major city unless you’re in that industry.
Fast forward to today, I came across a class at a local butcher that teaches how to butcher a pig and how to get the different cuts of meat. A very hands on class, we were taught how to take out the tenderloin, how to cut a side rack of ribs and get nice thick cut chops. At the end of the class, the meat portions were divided among all the participants to take home. Near the end of selection all that was left were the pork trotters, which no one wanted. Being the only Asian there, I happily volunteered to take them with me, you know, since Asians will eat any and all parts of most animals.
Although this is a cultural dish (and perhaps an acquired taste as well), it is actually really simple to make!
2 pork trotters, cut into pieces
Vegetable oil, for frying
5 slices ginger
8 whole cloves garlic
1 star aniseed
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
4 cups water
1 tsp sesame oil
3tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2tbsp oyster sauce
Pinch white pepper
Cut pork trotters in half lenghwise, in between the middle digits. Cut in half again at the joint.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Fry ginger and star aniseed until fragrant.
Add pork trotters and fry for about 8 minutes on both sides. Deglaze with Shaoxing wine. Add garlic and Seasonings, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours stirring once or twice. Liquid should have reduced to about half the original volume.