Pig’s Feet, Pig Trotter
Traditional Chinese Name:
猪脚 (zhū jiǎo)
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The Chinese use ALL parts of the pig and the feet are no exception. They can be used in stews, soups and various Chinese dishes – but is most commonly used with the use of black vinegar and ginger (usually prepared for Chinese confinement).
This is literally, the foot of the pig, hair and all! You buy them from the wet mart as you see them and it’s quite a sight the first time you see or buy them.
This cut of the pork tends to be bony and low in fat and is an amazing source of collagen.
This part of the pork contains large bones and a thick skin (sometimes with hair). They also do sometimes come with the hooves of the pig, which you can chop off (similar to the nails of the whole chicken).
Where can you buy pig’s feet?
- All wet marts in Hong Kong will sell them (sometimes you may have to pre-order them because of limited quantities). They come more “raw” and you’ll need more work preparing them. One leg costs around $50 HKD, but will vary by weight and size.
- In Canada, I find them in Chinese supermarkets. They will cut them for you and usually package them as well.
How to prepare pig’s feet:
- Make sure the legs are chopped into 2 inch pieces, it’s much easier to manage
- To start, I remove as much hair from the skin as possible. The first way is to torch it off if you have a cooking torch or a gas stove. You can just lightly burn off as much as you can.
- Then you can use a sharp knife and scrape any remaining hair or loose skin from the feet.
- At this point, I will scrub the legs in running cold, while preparing a pot of slightly salted hot water to blanch the meat in.
- Once the water boils, throw in your pig’s feet and flash boil for 5 minutes. Enough so that the extra blood, bones, and debris all bubble away, but not to fully cook it
- To create a more fragrant flavour in the pork, you can either bake them or pan-fry them with some oil and ginger (to remove the raw taste). This will allow the skin to crisp and become more flavourful in your dish.
Why do the Chinese love pig’s feet?
I think it’s definitely an acquired taste, but once you do get the hang of it, it’s delicious. You can make this with the popular black vinegar sauce, but also in soy sauce.
This protein does take awhile to soften, so stews and soups are the best to allow the skin and meat to become loose. You’ll also notice that the sauce is sits in become a bit thick because of the collagen dissolved into it.