Pig’s Feet

Pig’s Feet

Pig’s Feet

Ingredient Name

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:

  1. Make sure the legs are chopped into 2 inch pieces, it’s much easier to manage
  2. 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.
  3. Then you can use a sharp knife and scrape any remaining hair or loose skin from the feet.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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.




    Chicken (Whole) for Chinese Soups

    Chicken (Whole) for Chinese Soups

    Chicken (Whole) for Chinese Soups

    Ingredient Name:

    Chicken (whole), fowl, hen

    Traditional Chinese Name:

    雞 (jī)

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    Ah!  The chicken!  For Chinese soups, there are a few types of chicken available.  Let’s talk about chickens.

    • The standard white chicken (pictured above).  This is your normal chicken which is readily available in all supermarkets.  They come in various cut and part, or as one whole chicken (literally).  I actually prefer the whole chicken because you can prepare it any way you like.

    • The second type of chicken that’s most common in Chinese soups is the black silkie chicken (see below).  This chicken is the dark-skinned version of the two and more potent in its yang qi (or warmth).  This is the chicken of choice for healing or confinement soup recipes and usually come as a whole chicken.
    • Then you have the variations of the two in terms of size, location of birth, and how they were raised (some are free range, some are not, some are smaller fowls, some are hens, or the different types of breeds).  

    How do I prepare it?

            • To use for soups, think about the size and usage of the chicken.  In most Chinese soups, the meat isn’t always eaten, but I don’t like to waste, so will quarter them and serve as part of the deal to be dipped in soy sauce.  What I’ll usually save is the breast (for another meal) and use the legs, feet, head, neck, and bones in the soup.
            • Pat dry the chicken before you cut it.  You don’t need to wash the chicken before hand, this is what blanching is for.
            • Cut off the feet first and also can remove the nails from the feet
            • Cut your chicken into pieces (I usually do quarters)
            • Some people prefer to skin the chicken and make the soup without the skin and reduce the amount of fat by trimming any fat off the chicken first
            • Put on a pot of separate boiling water and drop the chicken in for 7-9 minutes or until the water re-boils.  This will help eliminate some of the fat, bone bits, blood, and any foam to produce a clean soup later on.

    Where can I buy it and cost?

        • This will definitely vary depending on where you buy it and how the chicken was raised.
        • In Canada, it can be as cheap as $12 CAD per whole white chicken and $18 CAD per silkie chicken.
        • In Hong Kong, wet marts sell them for around $80-100 HKD per chicken, depending on weight.  I don’t see live chickens much anymore in Hong Kong and the vendor will help you prepare it by chopping it and cleaning it, so you can definitely request this.
        • Worst case is to use chicken parts (I usually keep some legs lying around in the freezer just in case).

    Any benefits?

        • Boiled white meat is healthier to consume than red meats
        • Using the whole chicken (bones and all) helps with providing collagen
        • Skinless and boiled chicken is a great low-fat protein. It is lower in calories, fats and saturated fats than most other meats
        • Chicken is extremely dense in nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron, phosphorous, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin
        • In TCM, the chicken is considered the warmer of the meats, replenishing yang qi and nourishing the blood.  

    Any precautions?

        • Wash your hands and cutting utensils thoroughly after handling raw poultry to avoid cross-contamination like salmonella

    Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?

    This is a great starter video to build our your basic Chinese soup pantry.  A handful of these ingredients are actual amazing with one simple chicken.  It’s your basic Chicken Herbal Soup here!



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