Awareness of the art of cooking has been revived, thanks to cooking shows and food websites (such as food blogs). More people are interested in learning about food and different recipes. If they do not actually cook, they at least appreciate the looks, the story and the recipes that's behind every dish.
Pata (Tagalog word for pork hock ) Tim is a very old Chinese recipe that is very popular in Chinese restaurants in the Philippines. I do not know the origin nor the meaning of the name. The word tim must refer to a cooking style or recipe because duck can also be cooked in this way and called pato (Tagalog for duck) tim. Recipes for this dish also vary so I used a combination of recipes adjusted to my own taste.
Pork hock is not so much seen in Western cuisines as it is in the East. There was a time when it was extremely difficult to find pork hock or shank in London. It is one of the meat cuts that has been set aside and forgotten when changes in lifestyles made quick and easy meals more convenient.
Most people do not cook this at home because of the time involved in cooking it. I do not mind long slow cooking at all because it actually gives me some free time to do something else or relax as it cooks. Despite the length of time involved, the process is fairly easy.
The raw pork hock is initially deep fried to seal the meat and crisp the skin. This is done not only to result in a caramelised taste but also to give the skin its characteristic wrinkly texture. It has to be cooked until it falls off the bone. It's texture is as much sought after as its taste. It is the gelatinous wobble of its skin that happens after a long slow cooking process that is the prize.The sinew in the this cut of pork becomes gelatinous and protects the meat from drying during cooking.
It is served off the bone, topped with green vegetables. I served it here with fine green beans (haricot verts) that has been stir fried in garlic. Pak choi, choi sum, gai lan, broccoli or asparagus can also be used. This sort of dish is the ultimate comfort food that tastes so good with steamed rice.
1 whole pork hock (pata), cut at the joint
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2"x2" knob of ginger, sliced
2 tbsps. of oyster sauce
2 tbsps. of oyster sauce
1/4 c. light soy sauce
1/4 c. sherry or Chinese rice wine
3 tbsps. brown sugar
2 segments of star anise
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
200 gms. fine beans (haricot verts)
2 tsps. light soy sauce
Heat up enough cooking oil for deep frying in a wok. When the oil is very hot, immerse the pork pieces and fry until browned and crisp all over. Take out of the oil and set aside.
Heat up a clean wok and add 2 tbsps. of oil. Stir fry the garlic, ginger pieces and star anise for two minutes.
Add the pork pieces, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar and enough water to come halfway to the sides of the pork. Bring to boil then skim off the scum that rises to the surface.
Simmer for 3 to four hours on very low heat until fall-off-the-bone tender. Add the sesame oil to the sauce.
Carefully take the meat off the bone (you won't need to work so hard at this because it will naturally fall off the bone) and transfer to a serving dish. Ladle the sauce over it.
Stir frying the beans twice results in a crisp tender texture and sweet taste. Heat up a clean wok up and add 2 tbsps. of oil (you can use the oil that you've used to fry the pork in). Add the green beans and stir fry. Add 1 tbsp. of water to generate steam. Fry for about 3 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Take the beans out and set aside.
In the same pan, add the garlic (add a bit more oil if it has dried up) and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the beans and season with the 2 tsps. of soy sauce and sugar. Stir fry for 3 minutes or until crisp tender. Serve with the pata tim.
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