The love for pork is universal. How many countries revel on pork and munch on crispy pork skin like popcorn?
Pork is the most preferred meat of the Filipinos. The number one pork dish is the whole roast pig called lechon_yes, speared in a bamboo stick, spit-roasted whole from the snout to the tail. Fantastic! Next favourite is roasted or fried pig parts.
Crispy pata is a firm favourite in restaurants and beer gardens (Filipino equivalent of pubs). If pork rind is the favourite munchies in pubs and bars, crispy pata is the equivalent in beer gardens. Similar but more: crispy pork skin from the pork shank with the pork shank still attached to it. You've got the scratchings plus the fried meat plus the gelatinous sinew and tendons. Doesn't that sound so much better?
This is one of the best things Andrew Zimmern has ever eaten. As told by the man himself, it is the best messy food he's ever eaten. Actually it is not supposed to be eaten in a messy way. Andrew, perhaps overcome by excitement, picked up the whole shank and munched on it like a turkey drumstick. It is actually meant to be chopped before serving.
The pork shank is simmered with seasonings until transformed to a wobbly gelatinous mass, then deep fried. It is actually a very simple operation that even a deep frying klutz like me can manage to do it without mishap. The secret is drying and freezing the joint so it doesn't spatter in the oil. You'll end up with crispier skin, too.
1 pork hock, cut at the joint
1 onion, sliced
2" x 2" knob of ginger, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tsp. whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 tbsps. salt
Clean the pork well. Cut horizontal slashes on both sides. Put in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Skim off the scum that rises to the surface as it comes to a boil.
Add the onions, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf and salt and boil until tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. You can use a pressure cooker and it will take 30 minutes. The pork, including the skin has to be tender but not falling apart. Lay on a rack to dry.
Transfer to a tray lined with baking paper and open freeze overnight.
Heat enough oil for deep frying. When hot, carefully immerse the pork and deep fry, covered, on medium heat for 20 minutes. The skin should firm up and turn a medium brown. Leave to cool completely.
Heat the oil again. Deep fry the pork, this time on high heat for about 10 minutes or until the rind is crispy. This method doesn't cause so much spattering but have the lid on at all times to be on the safe side.
Allow to rest for about 15 minutes before chopping. Serve with the soy and vinegar dip.
Soy and vinegar dip:
2 tbsps. of brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsps. light soy sauce
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 red finger chilli in diagonal slices
2 shallots or half a red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
1 tbsp. of shredded fresh ginger
Mix all of the ingredients together and serve as dip for the crispy pata.
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