Going the Whole Hog


No part of a pig is wasted. We Chinese go the whole hog. Even the animal’s intestines and stomach can be eaten. Cleaning these internal organs used to take a lot of effort involving multiple washing and rinsing with the use of lime juice, salt and tapioca powder; but not anymore – today’s modern supermarkets sell pre-cleaned “spare parts” for home cooks to either braise or cook bah kut teh style.

A pot of braised pork, pig skin, intestines and stomach may not constitute gourmet cuisine, but nose-to-tail diners appreciate the taste and “mouth feel” of such cheap food and even fancy restaurants are now springing up where nose-to-tail – and anything in between – dining is touted as the in-thing, a culinary secret best known to true connoisseurs. Yup, if caviar and foie gras have been your standard fare, a salad of pig ears or a bowl of peppery pig stomach soup can really perk you up indeed!

I love robust Hokkien and Teochew-style cooking and nothing makes me happier than a pot of well-braised pork, pig skin and all the rest of it, plus a couple of hard boiled eggs. In the picture above (click to enlarge) you can easily spot tau-pok (deep fried bean curd), bits and pieces of pig skin, intestine, stomach, pork and tofu. This used to be the food of the poor laborers of yore, but today, well-traveled gourmands with jaded palates are finding great delight in eating such peasant fare.

To cook yourself a pot of such goodness at home, fill a pot with four cups of water. Add in the garlic, pork belly, intestine, stomach, pig skin and cracked pepper. Bring everything to boil before adding the hard-boiled eggs, tofu, tau pok, light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, and dark or black soy sauce. Lower the heat to medium and braise the contents for 30 minutes or so until everything is cooked through and is tender. Add salt to taste. Continue to simmer on the lowest heat for another 15-20 minutes. Serve with rice. Wash down with beer. End the meal with a Montecristo #2 or a Por Larrañaga Picadores.

What more does a man want?

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