Friday, January 18, 2008

Jujiao Xuan (Pork Leg in Sweet Vinegar)

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Jujiao xuan literally tranlates into 'sour pork leg' but it really tastes sweet and sour and truly is a gastronomic treat that only very priviledged people can savor. This is because this Cantonese dish is cooked and served to women who are in confinement for a month after childbirth. Of course a lot of women now cannot be confined for a whole month and most women don't bother with traditional confinement food (I didn't because my Shanghainese MIL considered herself 'modern'. Wish I had let my mom cook some for me.) Now I wish I did. So from an older and wiser person to those of you who aren't sure, listen: your body goes through a battle having a baby and you do need that extra nutrition and healing time.

Sour pork leg is traditionally cooked in a large earthenware jar and topped up whenever the volume gets low. That means it is on the stove, brewed daily so it won't go bad, and I'm told it gets better with age. Frankly, I've never cooked it myself because I always thought it's cooked by the older folks. Yes, I know, I'm old enough now to cook this dish. I was lucky enough to have my friend Linda, a fantastic cook, come over last Saturday with a big pot of sour pork leg. OM, it was so delicious (the eggs were sweet-sour and hard, the pig skin and tendons chewy, gelatinous and sooo yummy) I can eat it for a month! But I think I'd die of a diabetic shock (the sugar!) or constipation (the ginger!) before the month is through. This stuff is strong, and is very 'boo'/healing.

This is probably the second dish/recipe not cooked by me that I'm posting. I only post recipes I've tried and tested and in this case, tasted and am more than impressed with. Linda's recipe is from her late MIL and the secret to this dish is the extra effort of searing the pork leg over an open flame which gives the skin a nice chewy-tender texture instead of soft-tender. That is so important, because eating soft-tender pork skin is quite nauseating. Thanks, Linda, for sharing your family recipe. This is the best jujiao xuan I've ever tasted (don't tell my ma!).

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Pork Leg in Sweet Vinegar
1 large pork leg
2 rice bowls sweet vinegar *
400 to 500 g peeled old ginger, smashed but in large pieces
1/2 bulb garlic, smashed
2 bowls water
1 bowl white rice vinegar
1 pc ping pong ball-sized rock sugar
3 to 4 T light soy sauce
salt to taste
sesame oil
15 to 20 hard boiled eggs

1. Have the butcher butterfly the pork leg (cut lengthwise but leave bottom skin intact) and chop the bones & meat into small pieces, but not through the skin; leave skin intact.

2. Place pork leg over an open flame/stove top and sear the skin and meat/bone side too until the oil starts to come out from the skin. This will take at least 10 minutes. Parts of it will burn, but it's okay.

3. Soak the leg in a basin of water for 1/2 hour, then scrape off the burnt layer. Cut the leg into small pieces.

4. Put about 5 T sesame oil in an earthenware pot or glass pot (never a steel pot because of the vinegar) and fry the ginger and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the sweet vinegar, the water, white vinegar, rock sugar, light soy sauce, salt, the eggs and simmer 45 minutes over low flame. Stir occasionally.

5. Add the pork and simmer until it is tender, about 1 hour. Season to taste with more sugar or salt or white vinegar.

*Use Pearl River Brand's 'Vinegar Sweetened' . Costs about RM16 to 18 per big bottle.

10 comments:

Mandy said...

I like the serving dish, and also the jujiao xuan. This is the one dish I requested my mom to make when I am home. But we use a lesser fat cut though, because I don't eat the fat part. ;p Your pictures make me crave for it even more!

yammylicious said...

yammm i jus love it so so much! and i doesn;t like the fats!! so my mom will take over it! lolx!

Denise said...

*lick*lick* ... I'm licking the screen ;p~~

Wei! I'm quite interested with the 2 dishes at the back leh!
looks very "hakka choi" like that
what's tat ?

Precious Pea said...

Guess what? When it comes to Vinegared Pork Leg, my Hubby takes over the kitchen. Slurps slurps. He also good in cooking chicken wine..so don't think i would have any problem with my confinement diet..hahaha..if i ever go through that process!!!

ekeng said...

Mmmmmm...this jujiao xuan look very very very delicious...i almost lick my monitor..haha :)

Can i be your "Kai Zai"..haha :)

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

mandy: thanks; u noticed! got it in Guangzhou...yes, this is a dish that makes me crave for it too.

yammy: i don't like the fat but the tendon n skin's good *drool*

denise: me too :) ha, u wait lah, i'll let u know this week.

preciousp: u don't need a pui yuet poh when u r in confinemt, so lucky!n hub is a gem to be able to cook these two traditional dishes.amazing.

ekeng: u can be my virtual kaizai!(somehow tt doesn't sound very decent).ok, how about blog kaizai.

ekeng said...

ok..i will be your blog "kai zai"..and what should i called you? Blog "Kai Ma" ? :)

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