Cooking with Alison

Chinese Ginger Vinegar with Pig Trotters and Eggs

In Other Asian Foods on July 8, 2011 at am

Cooking with Alison’s Grandma (Part 2 of 4)

Chinese ginger vinegar (geung chou) is very good for your health.  It supposedly helps your body to warm itself and expel “wind” from your body.  According to Chinese medicine, excess “wind” inside your body can cause all sorts of ailments including joint pain, arthritis, headaches, etc.  This is traditionally made for women who have just given birth and is shared with friends and visitors in celebration of the arrival of the baby.  However, it can be enjoyed by anyone, at any time of the year.  I love the flavour and the texture of the pigs feet.  Everyone makes this dish slightly differently, but my favourite version has always been my grandma’s.  So when I visited her in NYC, I asked her to share her recipe. I was surprised by how few ingredients are required.  My grandma starts the process 3 months ahead of time, but the steps are simple and most of the time is spent resting the ginger and vinegar.

Chinese Ginger Vinegar Recipe

adapted from Grandma Chow

Notes:

  • This takes approximately 3 months to make from start to finish, but most of that time is spent waiting and the required steps are very easy.
  • This dish should Never be cooked, re-heated, or stored in a metal pot/container; only glass, ceramic or clay pots should be used.
  • When women give birth, their mothers/grandmothers use giant clay pots to make enough to last a few months so figure out the amounts of the ingredients below based on what will fit comfortably in your clay pot.
  • In terms of the ratios of ingredients, adjust them based on your taste and preference.  For example, if you like this dish spicier, use a lot of ginger.  There should be a significant amount of ginger because it gets eaten as well, but I personally like to have a higher ratio of pigs feet, because that’s my favourite part.
  • Sometimes, my grandma likes to add peanuts to this dish.  I personally don’t, but I’ve included the instructions below.

fresh ginger, washed

vegetable oil

Chinese sweetened vinegar (this is the most important ingredient in this dish so be sure to use the best brand; our favourite is Pat Chun, look for the Chinese words on the label shown here; different brands have varying sweetness so if your dish tastes too sour, you can add Chinese rock sugar to taste)

pigs feet also known as pig trotters (halve them lengthwise and chop each half into 2 or 3 pieces using a cleaver)

hard boiled eggs, peeled

raw and de-shelled peanuts (optional)

Peel the fresh ginger and discard the skin.  Cut the ginger into 1 or 2 inch long pieces.  Heat a wok over high heat.  Lightly coat the bottom of the wok with oil and when the oil is hot, stir fry the ginger until aromatic, about 2 minutes.  Then place the ginger in a clay pot (or ceramic or glass pot) and add enough Chinese sweetened vinegar to completely cover the ginger.  If you enjoy drinking the vinegar “soup”, then use more sweetened vinegar.  You can always add more at any step of the process.  Bring this to a boil and maintain a strong simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Once this has cooled, store it in a cool and dark place (refrigerator is an option but it’s not necessary) for 1 month.  Then bring it back to a boil and maintain a strong simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Store it for another month or 2 and, once again, boil it for 1 hour.  So in other words, you will boil the ginger in sweetened vinegar for 1 hour, 3 separate times.  You could store this for another month if you’d like.

You are now ready to add the eggs, pigs feet and/or peanuts.  Depending on the combination of ingredients that you’re using, you can minimize the required cooking time by adjusting the timing of adding each one accordingly.  See below for instructions for each type of ingredient.

If you are using peanuts:  Place the raw and de-shelled peanuts in a small pot of water, bring it to a boil over high heat, and allow it to boil for 15 to 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring the pot of ginger and sweetened vinegar to a boil.   Add the boiled and drained peanuts to the pot, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 1 hour.

If you’re using eggs:  Bring the pot of ginger and sweetened vinegar to a boil and mix in the boiled and peeled eggs.  The vinegar doesn’t need to cover the eggs but you can add more of the sweetened vinegar if you prefer a saucier dish.  (If the sauce becomes too sour, you can balance it with some Chinese rock sugar.)  When it returns to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, covered, until the eggs are heated through and have darkened in colour, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

If you’re using pigs feet:  Bring a large pot of water with the pigs feet in it to a rolling boil.  Allow it to boil for 10 minutes.  A lot of dirt and foamy scum will be removed from the pigs feet so rinse the pigs feet very well under cold running water.  Bring the pot of ginger and sweetened vinegar to a boil.  If you are adding both pigs feet and eggs to this dish, the pigs feet will need to be cooked first or separately from the eggs.  So if there are eggs that have already been boiled in the vinegar sitting in your pot, remove them and set them aside prior to cooking your pigs feet.  Once the pigs feet are cooked through, the dark coloured eggs may be returned to the pot.  Or, you could finish cooking the pigs feet first and then add the eggs and boil for 15 to 20 more minutes.  Once the pigs feet are cooked through, the cooked pigs feet and eggs may then be stored together and re-heated in the same pot.  Once you’ve added the pigs feet to the boiling pot of ginger and sweetened vinegar, cover the pot with its lid, and return it to a boil.  Note that the vinegar doesn’t need to cover the pigs feet and eggs, but if you prefer a saucier dish, you can add more of the sweetened vinegar.  (If the sauce becomes too sour, you can balance it with some Chinese rock sugar.)  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer until the pigs feet are cooked through, the skin and cartilage have reached your desired texture, and the skin is darkly coloured, at least 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve this dish hot and don’t use metal bowls or utensils.  Allow this dish to cool completely prior to storing it in the refrigerator.  Once chilled, you can skim the white fat solids off the top and discard.  If you’ve made a large batch, you can reheat small amounts at a time using a separate clay, ceramic, or glass pot.  Over time, you can add more sweetened vinegar, eggs, and pigs feet as desired and repeat the cooking instructions above.  If the sauce becomes too strong over time, you can add a little bit of water.  The ginger vinegar will keep for a long time as long as you keep it in the refrigerator and boil everything well at least once a month.

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  1. I loved this when my fiancé’s sister-in-law had her baby and we all got to have some. Being a Caucasian American who’s grandfather is Polish, all I could think of when they said pickled eggs and pigs feet were the things you see in old butcher shops or delicatessens with the giant jars of pickled feet and eggs. (Bleah! Ewww..gross!) But this dish tastes so sweet and warm and rich. Mmmm…!

  2. Do I really have to let the ginger and vinegar sit for 3 months before making this dish?

    • Hi Ted,

      I’m sorry it took me so long to reply! You definitely don’t have to soak the ginger in the vinegar for that long. Some people only soak it for 48 hours or so, but soaking it for 3 months will result in a better rounding in flavour and the large chunks of ginger will be easier to eat (not as sharp). If you don’t want to wait 3 months, then cut the ginger into smaller, thinner pieces. Hope that helps!

      Alison

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