Chilli Plum Pork Hocks
I have never cooked pork hocks before. A Neil Perry recipe for caramel chilli pork hocks caught my eye. But I had a jar of the amazing plum sauce made by Pete – the other half from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial in my hot little hands which was steering me in the direction of something plummy and hot / sweet / sour / crunchy. This was really rather sensational – up there in the pork hall of fame for us. Very rich and intense…but plate-licking good!
Chilli Plum Pork Hocks
(inspired by a Neil Perry recipe)
2 pork hocks
1 cup xiao shing (Chinese cooking) wine
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
4 star anise
5 slices ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
1 small lump of palm sugar (about 1 tablespoon)
1 piece dried mandarin peel – from Asian grocery shop
Chilli plum sauce:
6-8 birds eye (very hot) chillies
4 tablespoons plum sauce (replace with 2 tablespoons of plum jam and 1 tablespoon of vinegar if you are not lucky enough to have some of Pete’s plum sauce – sorry Pete I am sure you will be disgusted by this replacement suggestion)
2 tablespoons finely shredded ginger
1 star anise
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons (or more) lime juice
Sunflower or similar oil for deep frying
Fresh coriander for garnish
Put the pork hocks in a large pot and add water until they are just covered. Add the other poaching stock ingredients. Simmer for 3 hours. Drain and refrigerate. Retain stock for other uses such as to poach a whole chicken or to add to stir fries as a concentrated stock.
To make the sauce first fry all the sliced chillies (you want this to be hot, but feel free to wimp out and use less chillies if you want), the star anise and half the ginger until crispy and light golden. Remove half and set aside for a garnish. Add the plum sauce, fish sauce and lemon juice and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add some of the retained (uncooked) ginger a little at a time. Keep tasting – there will come a point when you get the balance between the ginger and the salty / sweet / sour tastes just right. It will depend on how strong your ginger is. Add a little water if your sauce is getting too thick. You want it to simmer for 15-20 minutes so all the flavours combine nicely.
Heat oil in a wok until it is very hot. Remove the meat from the bones of the pork hocks in large chunks. Deep fry (I did a sort of semi-deep fry with just a cup of oil rather than the whole monty) a few pieces at a time. You need to keep the oil really hot – the cold pork will drop the temperature of the oil quickly. Ideally you are trying to get the outside crispy, particularly the skin if you have kept it on, while retaining the moist tenderness inside. Drain on some absorbent paper (to pretend like you are going to reduce the fat load in this dish…self delusion at its peak!). Arrange on a plate and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with fresh coriander and the crispy fried ginger and chilli you set aside.