This Cantonese dish heralds the arrival of a baby. Traditionally made for women after giving birth, it is believed to keep the mother warm and give her strength during the customary confinement or rest period. Each ingredient in the dish, which can also be made with pigs' trotters, is seen to have fortifying properties for the health of the new mother. Large quantities of vinegar are used, believed to purify the blood and assist in circulation and, as a result, the thick slices of ginger take on a pickled quality.
- 2 pork knuckles, cut across the bone into 3 cm pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 200 g ginger, peeled, cut into thick slices
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 L Chinese black vinegar (chinkiang) (see Note)
- 150 g brown sugar
- 8 hard boiled eggs, peeled
- coriander sprigs, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Developing time overnight
Drink match 2012 The Wanderer Chenin Blanc, Yarra Valley, VIC ($25)
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Working in 2 batches, blanch pork knuckle for 2 minutes to remove any impurities. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Heat sesame oil and vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium–low heat. Add ginger and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened and slightly golden. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a large saucepan. Add vinegar and brown sugar and place over medium heat, stirring for 2 minutes to dissolve sugar. Add pork to the pan, adding a little water if necessary to ensure pork is covered with liquid. Cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours or until pork is tender.
Add eggs and simmer for 10 minutes or until warmed through and golden in colour. For maximum flavour, refrigerate overnight to let the flavours develop and re-heat stew the following day. Serve scattered with coriander sprigs.
• Chinese black vinegar (chinkiang) is available from Asian food shops.
Photography Brett Stevens
As seen in Feast magazine, November 2013, Issue 26. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.