My granddad always tells me off for not maintaining Chinese rituals in my daily life, the most common one being that I should have drunk more red wine while my wife Nathalie was pregnant, as apparently my preference for white wine was the reason that I have a (beautiful) daughter and not his preferred son. So this dish is my way of sharing an ancient recipe with all the other Chinese outside their homeland today who sometimes experience a lapse in remembering their culture.
This recipe is traditionally cooked for women who have just given birth. It contains a copious amount of vinegar and ginger, which, when boiled, completely fills the room with their corresponding aromas. It is these that are said to kill off bacteria as well as evil spirits in the home, thereby protecting both the newly born and the mother. I am not sure why I enjoy this recipe so much, but the sweet, pickled eggs and pigs' trotters are strangely moreish. This is one dish that I have always wanted to put on the restaurant menu but have yet to find a way of presenting it without scaring off the guests with the sight of whole trotters floating in candied vinegar.
- 4-5tbs vegetable oil
- 1.1kg (no, this is not a typographical error!) fresh root ginger, peeled, cut into chunks and flattened with the side of a large knife
- 3 litres sweetened black vinegar
- 300ml Chinese red vinegar
- 3 pigs' trotters, cut in half and then into 5cm sections (get your butcher to do this for you)
- 3 eggs, boiled for 10 minutes, cooled in iced water and then peeled
Heat the oil in a wok and fry the ginger until toasted. Set aside. To prepare the poaching liquor, bring the vinegars to the boil in a large, non-reactive pan with a lid, add all the ginger except one piece and simmer with the lid on for one hour.
Meanwhile, fill a separate large pan with water, add the reserved piece of ginger and bring the water to the boil. Add the pigs' trotter pieces and blanch for five to 10 minutes, then drain and rinse well under cold running water.
Decant 750ml of the poaching liquid into a separate pan, add the peeled eggs and simmer for one hour. Leave to cool completely in the liquor. You can now bring the trotters back to the boil and then add the eggs before serving.
Because of its high levels of acidity and sweetness, this dish will preserve itself for up to one month. However, you will need to re-boil the mixture for 10 minutes every week, then cool it and store it in a sterilised airtight container in the refrigerator.