One of my friends recently acquired an Instant Pot. I had a great time doing a demo of making Cantonese braised beef, which is one of my favourite Instant Pot recipes. We had so much fun that we planned for the next Instant Pot demo, and my friends were keen on making (of all things) braised pigs trotters with vinegar. This is a traditional dish that is supposed to be served to the recuperating post-partum mother, albeit with a lot more sesame oil and ginger. It’s interesting that after delivery it is true that most women find a sudden drop of the pregnancy hypermetabolism and Ive always been intrigued at how they literally start shivering after the baby is born. So the Chinese belief is that ingredients like ginger, sesame oil, vinegar and wine are “heaty” and should be given liberally to women in confinement.
I think most of my confinement food went to dear hubs after my first kid. He had super high jaundice level needing blue light phototherapy and I was a bit worried about the ginger and other elements in the diet affecting gut motility. So I confess I was the bad un-Chinese mom who washed her hair and ate a regular diet. But outside of confinement I do confess a sneaking affection for confinement food like sesame oil chicken and black vinegar pigs trotters.
It’s actually every Chinese New Year that I look forward to having this dish at my aunt’s place. She does make a mean pigs trotters dish with a really good balance of sweet, salty and vinegary flavours. In fact she was kind enough to share her recipe with me years ago. I’d actually posted a version of the recipe on my blog before, but I still felt I didn’t quite have the right balance of flavours. So I had to redo the recipe so that my friends would have a good experience at the next cookout.
Anyway the whatsapp chat about making pigs trotters was hilarious as we realised our group of 5 ladies had varying experiences in marketing and cooking. I really adore the wet market and so it’s usually not difficult for me to find the ingredients. Certainly the pigs trotters needs a visit to the pork butcher. I have a favourite stall in Whampoa market where I have always been amused at how curious the auntie and uncle were about what I was going to cook. For this dish, the foreleg should be used, and the butcher can chop it up into smaller pieces for cooking. The other thing you might find easier to source in the market is the sweet vinegar that is usually used for this dish. It costs less than $6 and can also be found periodically in NTUC.
The previous time when I blogged about the pigs trotters in black vinegar, I had used a combination of ChinKiang vinegar and sweet vinegar. I found that the ChinKiang vinegar had made the dish too sour and I had to put a lot more sugar substitute in to balance out the flavours. This time I used the whole bottle of sweet vinegar and it worked out so much better.
So here’s the latest iteration of the black vinegar pigs trotters dish. I think this version is more foolproof and easier for newbies to make.
Instant Pot Black Vinegar Pigs Trotters
- 1 foreleg pigs trotter, cut in large pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 200 g young ginger, peeled
- 200 g old ginger, peeled
- 2 dried chilis
- 1 bottle (750 ml) Bulldog sweet vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar substitute
- 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 cups water
- 4-6 hard boiled eggs (I usually use the 5-5-5 method to cook perfect hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot)
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Blanch the pigs trotters for about 10 minutes, then remove the trotters and set aside.
- Turn on the saute mode for the Instant Pot. Heat up 3 tbsp of sesame oil and stir fry the large chunks of ginger and garlic for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the dried chilli and pigs trotters into the pot and saute briefly.Add the whole bottle of sweet vinegar and about 1 – 2 cups of water till the pieces of meat are barely submerged.
- Add the dark soy sauce, sugar substitute and shaoxing wine and mix.
- Turn of the saute mode and put the lid of the instant pot on, turning the vent to the closed position. Put on manual high pressure for 40 minutes, then allow natural pressure release.
- Skim off the oil from the surface of the braising liquid.
- Turn on the saute mode and add the eggs. Boil for about 10 minutes till the eggs are well darkened. Alternatively, if not eating immediately, put the eggs in and put the Instant Pot on warm mode and serve several hours later. This slower method allows time for flavours to develop.
- Serve hot over some cauliflower rice.