Chinese Braised Pork Leg

timelong budgetlow skillmed

If you’ve never had pork leg before, this is definitely worth trying. Not only pork legs are cheap, this dish is very beginner friendly. This is a slow cooked dish. The end result is a very tender meat that’s off the bone with the pig’s skin having cooked into smooth gelatinous texture giving you contrasting textures in the dish.

Essential components:
• Pork leg, ask your butcher to cut it to medium sized cubes, it’s basically almost impossible to cut through the bones at home without heavy artillery. Also, make sure its the leg, not trotters
• Garlic, crushed
• Large red chili, deseeded (The non spicy variety, we want the aroma, not the heat)
• Star anise (I used 2 small ones to cook 2 legs, as the cooking process went on, you can then judge whether you’ll need more or not, it can overpower)
• Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing wine)
• Soy sauce
• Sugar

Optional addition:
• Stock
• Sweet soy sauce
• Cilantro/coriander leaves
• Cinnamon

Method:
• Heat oil in a large pot, add garlic and chili and cook for a few seconds until aromatic
• Add the pork leg cubes and try to brown as much of their surface as you can. Be careful not to burn them
• Add the Shaoxing rice wine and deglaze the pan, cook until it boils, then add hot water (or stock) until most of the pork is submerged
• Cook until the water boils, then add soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, sugar, star anise (and cinnamon if you’re using it)
• Taste the broth, it should be sweet and salty
• Bring to boil, cover, then lower the heat and cook for about 60-90 minutes
• After 90 minutes, it is done, but I prefer to cook it at high heat a little bit longer about 10-15 more minutes uncovered to further reduce the sauce
• Serve (top with chopped cilantro if using)

Tips and thoughts:
• You can use pork shoulder if you can’t find leg, it is also a cheap cut with similar properties
• The Shaoxing rice wine aroma is a big part of this dish, use generously
• You don’t need to deseed the chili if you don’t mind a little heat
• Restrain the use of the star anise (and the cinnamon if you’re using it). They should be detectable but not be overpowering
• In reality, due to the long cooking time, you can skip the browning of the pork chunks and cook everything together at one go, but browning meat is a good habit to do as it enhances the taste via Maillard reaction

braised porkleg

 

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