There are two dishes I miss from growing up in Beijing: one is Peking Duck – Trust me, they don’t make it the same anywhere else. You must try this dish in Beijing!
The other is Tianfu Braised Pork Hocks.
You can find braised hocks all over China. But Tianfu’s (天福号) version is only available in Beijing. They have storefronts all over town, where you can shop by weight, and take it with you wherever you like.
Here in the US, when I have my cravings, I make it on my own.
- 1 large pork hock (the one I bought was about 4lbs)
- 1/4 cup Chinese rock sugar
- half a small ginger, smashed
- 2 green onions, chopped in 3-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 Chinese cooking wine
- 2 cups Chinese dark soy sauce
- 10 Szechuan Peppercorns
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tbl olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- Soak the hock in cold water for 5 minutes to drain off blood.
- With a pair of small tweezers, remove any visible hair left on the hock.
- Fill a large pot with cold water and set it on the stove with high heat.
- Turn off the heat after water comes to a boil, dump the water into the sink.
- Wash the impurities off the hock in warm water.
- In a large braising pot/dutch oven, add olive oil and fry the rock sugar in medium low heat, stir constantly till the sugar cubes dissolve completely.
- Add the hock and stir till the surface of the meat is coated with caramelized sugar syrup.
- Add soy sauce, cooking wine, green onion, ginger, star anise, peppercorn, cinnamon stick and water. Turn up the heat, and let it come to a boil.
- Lower the heat and let it simmer for at least two hours. Add salt half an hour before ready. The meat should almost fall off the bones.
- Turn off the heat, let it cool and pick the meat off the bones, remove ginger, green onions and all the spices.
- Store the meat in the marinade in the refrigerator overnight for better flavoring.
- Next day, take the pot out of the refrigerator, the content should be gelatinous. (this stuff is good for your skin and joint)
- Skim the fat off the surface.
- Place the pot back on the stove at medium heat till it warms up and becomes soupy.
- Let it cool just a little so it is neither burning hot nor back to the gelatinous form.
- Fill a large Ziploc bag with the meat and a little bit of the sauce.
- Roll it and do your best to from into a log.
- Store in the freezer for 24 hours.
The third morning, bring the frozen log out of the freezer and into the refrigerator.
Once it has completely defrosted, slice the meat and you will have a plateful of delicious goodies to savor. Best enjoyed with a cup of sake or if you have Chinese Baijiu, such as Maotai or Wuliangye. Have a toast! The year of the rooster is just around the corner 🙂 .
Note: All the aforementioned Asian ingredients should be available in your local Asian/Chinese grocery stores and possibly cheaper. There is no need to get them online.The link I posted is just to give you an idea of what it looks like.