Like mother, like daughter: we love a good pork knuckle. My mom will make braised pork knuckle for any occasion (even if it’s often for a party like a birthday).
My childhood birthday parties didn’t include pork knuckle, but somewhere between grade school and college, my mom swapped fairy bread for her pork knuckle recipe.
Pork knuckle was not something for my lunch box; I didn’t want to take pig bones to the playground back then. As for dinners at home, I just wanted Mom to be more conventional. My sister and I were asking for steak, sausage and chicken for birthdays. “Everything but the hoof, mum!” we used to say, but she never considered.
Pork knuckle is a great birthday meal. In fact, it’s a tradition that I will most likely pass on to my children. Like many dishes in Chinese culture, braised pork knuckle is an auspicious dish; it symbolizes prosperity.
“It’s a tradition that I will most likely pass on to my children.”
Some people may associate pork knuckle with Germany. The dish is usually served alongside a stein (beer jug). However, in Taiwan, particularly Taichung, pork knuckle is found in all its glory braised and sometimes simmered. But we don’t just limit the pork to the shank. We also like the shin, knee joint and hooves. A typical dish of braised pork knuckle uses many different cuts depending on how much fat, gelatin, and meat you like. The higher you go up the leg, the more meat you get, but that would mean sacrificing fat and more importantly the gelatinous outer skin which when braised becomes sticky, bouncy and very palatable (just like pork belly ).
My mom tends to choose a mix of pork shank and lower shank to ensure a good meat to skin ratio. This pleases my dad who likes to talk about bad cholesterol, even though he still has more than his fair share of skin.
The last time I was in Taiwan, I discovered a night market dedicated to pork knuckle. Two distinct recipes were on offer: a soy-braised pork knuckle dish, which is best served with rice or noodles to soak up the silky, oily sauce of the long ember, and a more soupy pork knuckle dish. , which is boiled with peanuts to produce a creamy milk soup.
This year I’m going to spend my birthday in Europe with my mom, and I can only imagine the smile on mom’s face when I tell her that I have a great butcher near me with farm-raised pork and sustainable as a specialty.
Guess I’ll be having another braised pork knuckle dish for my birthday, and after three years away due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m as agitated with excitement as the gelatinous skin found in the recipe. from my mother.
Simplified Taiwanese Soy Braised Pork Shank
For 4 people
- 1.5kg pork knuckle
- 1 spring onion
- 30g or a small piece of ginger, crushed with a nifty/knife
- 1 tbsp Sesame oil
- 200ml Light soy sauce
- 100ml soya sauce
- 800ml the water
- 100ml cook rice wine
- 2 tablespoons candy sugar or brown sugar
- 2 stars anise (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- Ask your butcher to clean and remove all hair from the skin of the pork knuckle. Wash the shank in cold water and drain it.
- Put the pork in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
- Discard the water and pass all the pieces of pork under cold water. Drain and reserve.
- Return the pan to the stove and over medium heat, add the sesame oil, followed by the ginger and spring onion.
- Fry the herbs a little before adding the pork. Move with a large spoon or chopsticks and add soy sauce, rice wine and sugar.
- Add fresh, cold water making sure all the pork is covered. Add star anise and cinnamon stick.
- Bring the broth to a boil before reducing it to a simmer. You can use a pressure cooker and cook for at least 45 minutes or braise over low-medium heat for at least 1.5 hours, or until the skin is sticky and the meat pulls away from the bone.
- If you want a stickier sauce, continue braising until the broth has reduced. Toss and turn your pork to make sure it’s fully coated in the delicious sauce.
- Serve with rice or noodles.