Chinese Braised Pork Hock
One of my favorite comfort foods of all time is Chinese braised pork hock. Say whaa?? You heard me right. Forget spaghetti and meatballs, and don’t you dare talk to me about meatloaf! When it comes to good-for-your-soul comfort food to warm your tummy and whet your tongue, look no further than this. Squiggly jiggly sticky, sweet and savory pork hocks.
Those of you who have indulged in my posts before know that I’m a big fan of the “nasty bits“, as Serious Eats so eloquently calls it. Tripe? Love it. Cartilage? Can’t get enough. Pig ears? Gimme gimme more! Pork hocks go right there on that list. Also known as pork ankle, this delectable cut of meat is comprised of pork’s version of dark meat on bone, intertwined with plenty of tendon and covered with a luscious sheet of skin that cooks down into divine succulent sticky goop.
Our German friends love this cut, roast to a crispy golden perfection and downed with gulps of cold beer. Try this Oktoberfest pork shank recipe, a staple on the German dinner table. Served simply with boiled potato and sauerkraut, a trip to Germany or its neighbors is simply incomplete without having a meal or ten of pork shank. Chinese people also love pork hock. Growing up, before I learned the glorious ways of eating tendon and skin, my grandparents would try to coerce me into eating it by telling me that collagen beautifies skin. By consuming large quantities of the stuff, I too could have Snow White’s glowing pearly complexion. Being 6 years old at the time, needless to say, that idea was met with a blank stare. Back to playing with sticks in the mud!
Since the good ol’ days, I have learned to appreciate and crave the delicious braised pork hock, stewed for hours in soy sauce, rock sugar and Chinese cooking wine. My uncle makes the most amazing pork hock, and recently, I finally got the secret family recipe. As it turns out, over the years, he has found a shortcut way to make this dish with a pressure cooker. This cuts the cooking time down from hours to 30 minutes, so this doesn’t have to be a laborious Sunday night only dish.
Servings: 4 | Cook & prep time: 1 hour
- 2 meaty pork hocks (or pork shank, which is longer and meatier)
- 1/2 cup sake or Chinese cooking wine (I used half of each)
- 1 coin ginger
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- A drizzle of dark soy sauce for color
- 2 tbsp. rock sugar (substitute brown sugar if you don’t have rock sugar)
- 1 star anise
- 1/4 cup water
Boil the pork hocks for a few minutes in water do get rid of the blood and impurities. This will prevent scum and foam from oozing out during cooking.
Place the boiled pork hocks in a pressure cooker. Add remaining ingredients.
Seal pressure cooker and bring to a boil over high heat. When the pressure cooker regulator knob (little guy at the top) starts rocking, turn heat down to medium until the knob achieves a gentle rock. If this sounds like nonsense to you, it will make sense once you see a pressure cooker in action!
Cook for 30 minutes and turn off heat. Let the pressure cooker cool for at least 20 minutes. You don’t want to open the cooker while it’s full of steam. Once the pressure cooker has cooled enough to open, check the meat for doneness. It should be falling off the bone.
This dish is amazing served on top of rice, drizzled with the sweet, sticky sauce from the pot, and served with some greens. You can also serve it on noodles, or just enjoy by itself!
Written and photographed by Jennifer Yu