A couple of months ago, the weather was rainy and cold and made us in the mood for hearty fare. In addition, we wanted to have some good luck fare to create good energy. The Taiwanese believe pig trotters, especially pig trotter mee sua 豬腳麵線 is considered the food to have to sweep away the past rotten luck and bring in future good energy. Once pig trotters came up and the jonesing started immediately. We like all manner of pig trotter prep (okay, maybe not the scary pickled kind in jars at the supermarket), but Taiwanese style pig trotter, slow braised in dark lu 滷 liquid with peanuts, speak to my soul. Of course, this manner of pig trotter is virtually impossible to find in San Francisco Taiwanese restaurants. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's Southern Taiwan style?
Well, if you want, you gotta roll up your sleeves and make it yourself. I went to Ranch 99 and got the ingredients and began a night of braising. This recipe needs at least 2.5 hours of slow braising to get the meat to falling apart delicious.
First I got two smaller-sized pig trotters and cut them into 2-2.5 inch segments. The meat then gets blanched for about 5 minutes in boiling water to get rid of any leftover blood in the meat. I also like to add a few slices of ginger and a splash or two of rice wine to the blanching water to make sure its odor controlling powers are at its maximum. You should see quite bit of scum form. Remove the meat and rinse under cold water.
The aromatics for the lu 滷 liquid are several cloves of whole garlic, leeks, a couple of seeded red peppers, shallots roughly chopped up and scallions in longish segments.
Stir fry all the aromatics with a bit of canola oil until fragrant. Then add to it soy sauce, soy sauce paste, rice cooking wine, five spice powder, rock sugar, star anise, salt and white pepper, and a dash of cinnamon. I added some raw, shelled peanuts. Then when boiling, add in the meat. The liquid should cover the meat sufficiently. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for at least 2.5 hours.
The pot of braising meat filled the apartment with an unbelievably savory aroma and added a much need warmth to the usual draftiness. When the braised meat is about finish, boil some water to cook the mee sua noodles. Drain and toss with some sesame oil to prevent sticking. You can have these noodles either dry or wet (meaning in broth). As we didn't have any good broth on hand, we decided to serve the dish dry. Below are the noodles awaiting the meat with lu sauce.
When the braise is ready, it should have a shiny, glossy look to it. The liquid has reduced down into a almost-syrupy like consistency sauce. The meat should be fall off the bone tender and the peanuts should be soft.
We ladled some of the meat and sauce over the mee sua noodles and voila... good luck pig trotter noodles!