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Dining In 2 minutes 25 July 2019

Recipe: Teochew Jellied Pig Trotter

Patience is the key to achieving rich umami flavour and melt-in-the-mouth consistency in this classic Teochew dish, says Dylan Ong of The Masses.

recipe Teochew heritage

Teochew jellied pig trotter, or tir kah dang as it’s known in the dialect, is a disappearing dish in Singapore’s hawker culture. Notoriously laborious to make, this delicacy of diced meat and skin suspended in savoury aspic requires hours by the stove, cooking down meat and bones into a collagen-rich consommé that solidifies when cooled.

But the results are sublime in Singapore’s sweltering heat — the jellied meat cubes are succulent and appetite-whetting when eaten with tangy chilli vinegar. Served on chips of ice, tir kah dang melts on the tongue into its original components: an umami-packed consommé and textures of tender meat and collagen-rich skin.
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For chef-owner Dylan Ong of modern Singaporean restaurant The Masses, the dish is a taste of home and heritage. Of Teochew descent, Ong comes from a family of hawkers and one of his fondest food memories is of his father taking time off work to whip up a Teochew-style family feast to celebrate his 14th birthday. “This was a very rare occasion as my parents had to man the stall daily, which left them hardly any time with me. He had spent that entire morning prepping in the kitchen a meal of Teochew classics: cold crab, steamed whole fish, braised duck and tir kah dang.”

At The Masses, Ong combines his French culinary training with his love for local food, weaving together modern techniques and premium ingredients with beloved Singaporean flavours.

His rendition of Teochew jellied pig trotter is based on a time-honoured recipe handed down from his father and elder brother, fine-tuned with a classic French clarification technique. The collagen-rich pork stock is simmered with a mixture of egg white, minced meat and mashed vegetables which coagulates into a “raft”, capturing stray particles and infusing more flavour into the stock, leaving behind a clear, rich consommé.

The recipe is not complicated but time-consuming, taking up to eight hours to slow cook the stock and another one and half days for the jelly to congeal in the fridge. “Patience is key. From the simmering of stock, to fat removal from the pork and pig’s skin, to gelatinisation, everything takes time,” says Ong. “But if we do not begin exposing our youth to our precious heritage dishes, they will soon be neglected or despised, if not gone. I am just doing my part in this larger effort to ensure tradition is not lost to modernity.”
Teochew Jellied Pig Trotter
Yields 12-14 portions

1 medium-sized pork trotter or hind leg
500g pig skin
250g pork belly

For the stock seasoning:
5 slices ginger
2 bay leaves
3 pcs star anise
2 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2g Sarawak black pepper
1.5 tsp five spice powder
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2.5 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
3 pcs rock sugar
Salt to taste

For consommé clarification:
2 carrots
2 yellow onions
500g minced pork
6 egg whites

For the chilli vinegar:
1 red chilli, deseeded
3 cloves garlic, chopped
70ml plum sauce
50ml vinegar
20ml white balsamico

Method:
1. Blow-torch the pork trotter, pig skin and pork belly to remove any hair.
2. Place them in a medium pot and cover with water, bringing to boil to remove any remaining blood.
3. Drain and wash the pig skin, pork trotter and pork belly in clean water.
4. Heat up a pot of water at high heat and add in the skin, trotter and belly with all the stock seasoning ingredients. Once the pot has come to a boil, leave it to simmer.
5. Skim off any scum from the surface of the stock.
6. Simmer for 8 hours to ensure the meat separate from the bones easily. Once the meat has reached a fall-off-the-bone consistency, remove the meat and skin from the stock and set aside to cool separately.
7. To prepare the consommé clarification, first blend the carrots and onions in a food processor till soft.
8. Place the blended carrot and onion in a mixing bowl with the minced pork and egg whites and mix well.
9. Pour clarification mixture into a pot with the cooled down stock. Let clarification take place at medium heat, cooking gently. Stir to ensure minced pork is not stuck to the base of pot.
10. The egg whites will start to coagulate, forming a floating “raft” with the minced meat and vegetables. Once the raft appears, turn the heat down to low and cook for an hour.
11. Once the stock is fully clarified, strain the stock and set aside to cool.
12. Remove any bones from the pork trotter. Dice the pork trotter meat, pork belly and pig skin and place in a rectangular mould. Pour in the clarified stock and place in the fridge to set overnight.
13. For the chilli vinegar, blend all the ingredients together and store in the fridge till ready to serve.
14. Cut the jellied pork trotter into desired portions, garnish with chicharron (crispy fried pork skin) and cucumber fricassee, and serve with chilli vinegar on the side.

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