More jelly, this time something savory. I have not make pig trotters in aspic for a long time. The Singaporean palate has changed and not many people appreciate this traditional dish. Add the fact that cooking aspic takes a lot of effort and time. It is not by surprising this dish has all but disappeared from hawker stalls and resturants here.
I have decided not to make the traditional Teo Chew style aspic which uses Chinese spices. Instead, I am going to do a fusion pig trotters in aspic by adding soy beans which is a Burmese variation and aspic stock using European herbs. Ok fine, I confess: I ran out of star anise and cloves and I need to use up the huge batch of parsley.
Confessions done, back to the cooking. First, I need to clean the trotters very thoroughly. As we all know, pigs do not shave or wax, so while my butcher does a pretty good job removing the hair, I still have to make sure there is absolutely no hair on the trotters. If you have to remove the hair yourself, the traditional method is to singe them off but I am told of an easier way which is to shave off the hair using a disposable rasor or if you are in a vengeful mood, your enemy's razor.
The clean trotters are scalded in boiling water followed by a soak in rice vinegar for 10 minutes so as to make them tender easily. Then they are boiled in water until cooked. Deboned the cooked trotters, cutting the pork into tiny pieces, separating the meat and the skin. In my opinion, this is the most tiresome part of the cooking process. It has taken me almost an hour. By the end of it, I feel greasy and smell gamy, I have to go take a shower.
Keeping the meat for later, I toss the skin and bones back into the water used to cook the trotters together with diced carrots, chopped onions, garlic, bay leaf, bunch of parsley and presoaked soy beans. The aspic stock is then simmered for 3 to 4 hours, skim off scum and oil periodically.
When the stock is done, remove the bones and parsley then filter the stock with a fine metal wire sieve. That will separate the carrots, soy beans and pig skin. Filter the stock a couple of times again with a muslin bag. This will filter out what's left of the onions, garlic and parsley. Put the carrots, soy beans, pig skin and the meat that is set aside in a bread loaf pan or a bowl if you want a round aspic. Once the stock has cooled, skim off remaining oil and pour the stock into the bread loaf pan. Pop the pan into the refridgerator overnight for the aspic to set.
There you have it, pig trotters in aspic or if I want to be fancy, I can call it fusion pig trotters terrine. Served it with a Burmese style sauce made from dark soy sauce, chilli, garlic, rice viengar and sugar.
The aspic received a luke warm response from my guinea pigs, I mean my family. My Dad is like " I still prefer the Teo Chew style aspic... you should know I don't like soy... why do u have to skim off all the fats..." You think I will be an unfilial daughter if I use Dad's razor to shave the remaining trotters?
To be honest, there is too much soy beans but I do like the crunchy texture it brings to the lightly flavoured aspic. The recipe needs a little more tweaking. Maybe the next time I can get my Mom to do the cleaning and the deboning of the trotters...