Tag: Braised

Braised Beef Shank

Braised Beef Shank 1

A while ago, my Irish blogger friend, Conor Boffin, did a very nice post featuring Braised Beef Shanks he called Daub of Beef. I remembered that I still had some beef shank in my freezer and I decided to use his dish as an inspiration for something along the same lines. I have chosen a very nice Merlot for my wine addition, and I am also using a little Madeira as well. Unlike Conor, I am not using fresh mushrooms, but I do add some chopped, reconstituted Shiitake early on and I also add some diced carrot towards the end. This dish turned out as nicely as I am sure was Conor’s… [ Continue reading “Braised Beef Shank”

Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls and Mushrooms

Sea Cucmber with Beefballs 1

I introduced the rather exotic delicacy commonly known as Sea Cucumber not long ago and, in that post I detailed the somewhat lengthy process for rendering the dried product edible. Today’s dish, featuring an already reconstituted specimen, is a fairly commonplace preparation wherein the sliced flesh is braised with other ingredients; in this case, seasoned beef-balls and dried Chinese Black Mushrooms in a rich braising medium…  Continue reading “Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls and Mushrooms”

Recipe: Vietnamese Coconut Water Braised Pork

Vietnamese Coconut Water Pork 1

When I introduced you to Coconut Water in my last post, I mentioned that it is quite often as a braising medium in Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnam has two very popular pork dishes: One called ‘Pork braised in Coconut Water’ and the other known as ‘Caramelized Pork’ (or Thit Kho To in the native tongue). Each has many versions and permutations but there is such an overlap between them that, really, they could almost be considered variations on the same basic dish. Fish sauce and caramelized sugar syrup is essential to the basic flavor of both but Thit Kho To is likely to be the sweeter preparation and may, but often doesn’t include coconut water. Naturally enough, that particular ingredient is an absolute requirement for today’s recipe…  Continue reading “Recipe: Vietnamese Coconut Water Braised Pork”

Notable Nosh: Pig Trotters

Pig Trotters 1

I enjoyed this dish at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa just a short time ago. Pig trotters, or feet, don’t have a widespread popularity in the west, although they are sometimes pickled, but the Chinese certainly appreciate them a good deal more. I should note here that what I was actually served at Harmony only contained a few pieces of foot, while the rest were clearly taken from the lower portion of the shank, or, more particularly, the ankle.

The menu described this item as ‘Harmony Special Braised Trotters’ in English, while the Chinese name appeared as:

醬豬手

Interestingly, the last two characters (zhūshǒu) are literally translated as ‘pig hand’, rather than pig foot, but if you run Google translate on Chinese web-pages containing the characters, it typically comes back as ‘trotter’. The first character (jiàng) can refer to any culinary paste (or jam, sometimes) but more specifically means soy paste and derivatives. In Chinese, soy sauce often  appears as 醬油 (or ‘soy paste oil’) and this gives a clue to how the above dish is prepared.

There is a very common Chinese cookery technique called 紅燒, which means ‘red-cooked’ or ‘red-braised’, in which the main ingredients are long-simmered in a soy-sauce based braising liquid that is generally sweetened with sugar (rock sugar especially), seasoned with various spices. Although I didn’t ask, Harmony’s version of trotters seemed to me to be an example of this technique. The soy flavor was definitely apparent, and it had obviously been sweetened, although no additional flavorings were particularly in evidence. However, since star anise is very often employed in these types of dishes, I didn’t mind this at all as I am not keen on the taste in savory dishes.

In short, this dish was (absent the deep soy flavor) very like a preparation my wife makes using pork hocks. The skin was soft enough to easily chew and very nicely gelatinous, while the meat was moistly tender with enough texture left to still adhere to the bone. The flavor of these ‘trotters’, as with pork hock, is a bit stronger than cuts from ‘higher on the hog’, and not everyone might appreciate it, but I liked it very much. I am thinking that, the next time I buy pork hocks for my wife, I may select a few additional small ones and try a dish along these lines myself, possibly with a few seasonings taken from the cuisines of western China. Naturally, I will post the results of any such experiment…