Unlocking a Culinary Beauty Secret: The Power of Pork Trotters
While pork trotters with soaked soybeans might sound unconventional to some, the appeal of pork trotters, or pig’s feet, should not be underestimated. Beyond their distinct flavor, this specific cut plays a pivotal role in Asian beauty rituals. Often cited as a secret behind the youthful appearance of numerous Asians, pork trotters are particularly cherished by Chinese women, who relish and extol its benefits.
Let me paint a picture for you: On a lazy afternoon enjoying dim sum, an elderly Chinese duo caught my eye. Their order was singularly focused – a generous bowl of braised tendon. Nothing else. Their dedication to this dish spoke volumes. Such traditional delicacies have been celebrated across generations for their potential benefits to joints and skin, thanks to the collagen present.
You’ve likely seen beauty brands tout collagen as the miracle ingredient in their pricey potions. Yet, many Asian cultures have known the secret for ages: why apply when you can savor? From the Chinese to the Japanese and Koreans, a hearty pig foot, prepared in myriad ways, has been the beauty dish of choice. And while modern science continues to debate the direct benefits of consuming collagen, I can’t help but look at my mother, a devout lover of this dish, radiating grace and elegance at her age, and wonder.
- 4 ounces dried soybeans (pre-soaked overnight)
- 2½ pounds pork trotters (request your butcher to cut into sizable pieces)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 4 ginger slices
- 4 scallions, segmented (keep the whites and greens separate)
- 3 star anise pods
- 1 Chinese cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 dried chili peppers (optional for that kick)
- 1 dried tangerine skin slice
- 20 grams rock sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons regular soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 4 cups water
- Salt (for seasoning)
- Begin with your pre-soaked soybeans. For the trotters, after having them cut, rinse well. Then, boil in a water-filled pot for a couple of minutes. Drain, rinse, pat dry, and keep aside.
- Warm the oil in your chosen pot on medium-low. Introduce the ginger, scallion whites, star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves, chili peppers (if using), and tangerine peel. Let these aromatics gently release their essence for a few minutes, ensuring they don’t scorch. Incorporate the pork trotters next, searing them until they attain a golden hue on all sides.
- Add the soybeans next. Introduce rock sugar, both soy sauces, Shaoxing wine, and water. Stir the mix well, cover, and allow the trotters to braise over low heat. This should take about 70-80 minutes until the trotters feel tender to touch. Remember to occasionally stir. When nearing completion, season with salt. Aim for tenderness, but not to the point where the meat parts from the bone.
- If you find an excess of liquid towards the end, fear not. Simply increase the heat and let it simmer down to your preferred consistency. Ideally, you should have a sauce that’s rich and thick. To finish, sprinkle the green scallion segments atop and serve.
This dish, steeped in tradition and believed benefits, is more than just a meal. It’s a testament to cultural beauty rituals and the timeless love for good food. So, the next time you’re seeking an exotic, health-imbued dish, remember the savory pork trotters with soaked soybeans, and treat yourself to a delicious dose of tradition.