Thursday, January 19, 2023


Underneath a food picture I posted on Facebook one of my friends wrote a short comment: "Not that". Reason being that he didn't know what it was, it looked like muck. As in fact a lot of food pictures do. Muck is not appetizing, you want something solid and identifiable. That's the reason why the mediaeval Dutch diet never caught on, I expect. Porridge, with or without dried fruits, is altogether unappealing in appearance. You need to throw some hefty chunks of ham or goat in there. Same reason why white folks aren't attracted to congee; it looks like paperhangers paste.

Though I can trace my descent all the way back to a late fourteenth century Dutch peasant named Gompert, I eschew mediaeval Dutch porridge. Folks who died of the plague ate that. But I am quite fond of congee. Dried fish and fried peanuts congee (柴魚花生粥 'chai-yü faa-sang juk') is miraculous. It looks remarkably like paperhangers paste with things in it.

In any case, for my friend's benefit, I labelled the latest food drawing on FB.
He likes German food, so a schweinshaxe should appeal to him.
Most Americans perhaps not so much.

It's traditional as part of the New Year's evening feast if you are Cantonese, because of the name which suggests wealth and good luck falling right into your hand.
Pig's trotters with black moss and dried oyster.

Two pig's trotters, rinsed, scalded, and scrubbed.
A dozen dried oysters (蠔豉 'hou si'), soaked and cleaned.
A very small handful (about a quarter of a 兩) of black moss (髮菜 'fat choi').
Six to ten baby bokchoy.
A few slices of ginger.
One or two star anise (whole).
Quarter cup sherry or rice wine.
Quarter cup superior stock.
Two TBS oyster sauce.
One TBS soy sauce.
One Tsp. sugar.

[Soak the black moss and dried oysters separately for an hour or so. Rinse them to remove sand or grit.]

Place the trotter with some salt and a little oil in a wok, and tumble-fry it till it is well coloured and aromatic. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe pan, add a little oil, and gild the ginger. Add the oysters, stir-fry briefly, seethe with the sherry. Add the trotter, stock, sugar, whole star anise, and some water to keep it fairly soupy. Decant to a clay pot and simmer for two hours.
Add the black moss, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and cook for another fifteen or twenty minutes.
Rinse and blanch the baby bokchoy, use them to rim a serving plate. Scoop the stew into the centre of the plate. Garnish with cilantro or spring onion.

Note: personally I don't use black moss (hair vegetable; 'fat choi'). It's not very good for you, and has no appeal other than the name, which sounds the same as 'striking it rich' (發財).
But traditionalists will squawk if it is left out.

By the way, I thought the picture which prompted his comment looked very nice.

It's a curry dish. Mutton in mustard leaf puree with yogurt. Quite tasty. Notice the chili peppers, and there is also a star anise pod in there. Great with some rumali roti.

Fresh pork trotters are usually sold in packs of two.
Wich is approximately one pound of feet.
Haxe are a good substitute.
The hocks.

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