Pig's Trotters in Vinegar is a heritage must-have Cantonese dish for postnatal mums during the 'confinement period'. The dish is believed to help replenish collagen, warm the womb and purge the "wind" generated during childbirth. The gelatinous pig trotters in sweet black vinegar is a highly appetising and mouthwatering dish enjoyed by many people (non-postnatal-mums included)!
Use a brush to scrub the ginger skin thoroughly, removing any loose skin on the Bentong ginger and young ginger. Wash and pat dry (best to do this a week in advance and dry under the sun until they are dried thoroughly).
Remove the stems from the young ginger. Cut the Bentong ginger and young ginger into chunks and lightly bruise with a cleaver for better absorption of the vinegar. Set aside for later use.
Rub the pig's trotter with coarse salt and use a knife to scrape the skin to remove any scum on the skin to get rid of the porky smell. Rinse well.
In a wok, add in 2 litres of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add in the pig's trotters to the wok and blanch for about 10 mins to further get rid of the porky smell. Discard the water.
Use a pair of tweezers, remove any stray hairs on the trotters and scrape off any blood clot in the bones with a pointer knife. Rinse the pig's trotter thoroughly, then pat dry.
In a clean wok, add in 3-4 TBsp of sesame oil and turn heat to medium. Add in the ginger chunks and fry until they are very dry ( but not burnt ) stirring constantly.
Add in the pig trotters and fry for a few minutes. Then transfer the ginger and pig's trotter into a large clay, ceramic or glass pot.
Pour in the whole 750ml bottle of Sweet Black Vinegar and 1-2 bottles of water (using the same bottle to measure the water) according to your preference.
Add in the brown sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the fire to medium low and simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hour until the pig's trotters are soft but not too jelly like.
Peel and add the hardboiled eggs into the black vinegar during the last 15 minutes of the cooking time.
Turn off the heat and let the pig's trotter and ginger sit in the pot for at least 4 hours (preferably 2-3 days) before consumption. This is to allow the pig's trotter and ginger to fully absorb the flavour of the vinegar. Best served with a bowl of rice.
Front pig's trotter has a good ratio of meat and collagen, whereas hind trotters are tougher and more muscular, with more tendon and collagen but not much meat. I prefer the front trotters which are meatier (pictured below) but also have a good amount of collagen. However, you can also mix front and hind trotters if you prefer more collagen.
It is best to use a mixture of old and young ginger. The matured ginger is more fragrant and spicy whereas the young ginger is less aromatic. However, young ginger is better for eating as it is less fibrous, softer and more tender.
For old ginger, I recommend using Bentong ginger and Indonesian ginger as they are more aromatic and spicier compared to China or Thai ginger.
For the black Sweet Vinegar, I recommend buying the double strength ones. I like to use the more concentrated Chan Kong Thye Pink Label which is its double strength version, whereas its Yellow Label is more diluted.
COOKING & STORAGE TIPS
It is best to wash and sun the ginger for a few days before cooking. This will increase the capacity of the dried ginger to absorb the vinegar.
Ensure the pig's trotter are thoroughly cleaned otherwise the soup will have a strong porky smell. To do this, exfoliate the skin of the trotters thoroughly with coarse salt and use kitchen tweezers to removing any stray hairs.
More sugar can be added if that's your preference.
The pig's trotter is best consumed after it has soaked in the vinegar for 3-4 days.
Do not cook or store vinegar in plastic containers, cast iron, aluminium and stainless steel pot. Vinegar is acidic and will react with these materials. It is best to use glass, stainless steel or ceramic for cooking and storage of vinegar.
The pig trotters can be kept for a few weeks, but the vinegar needs to be stored separately. The longer the pig's trotter sit in the vinegar, the softer it will become and it may even disintegrate. The eggs will turn hard and rubbery if stored in the vinegar for too long. Hence, it is best to store the pig trotters and eggs in one container, and the vinegar and ginger in another container.