Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pork Snout Poached in Chinese Marinade

On the last day of the lunar year my friend Christina gave me the idea of making braised pork knuckles and tongues in Chinese marinade (called 鹵水 louh’-sui’) for diner.  I thought it was an exciting dish to make to celebrate the arrival of the year of the horse so off I went to buy the ingredients.  However, when I arrived at the wet market - at about 2pm - my pork butcher was about to close down his stall.  I could not help but think of my 1st Chinese New Year in Hong Kong when I could not find any vegetables after 4pm!  I learnt after this incident not to wait for the last day to buy food needed for the first 3 days of the Lunar New Year.
But this year it was different: I wanted to make an extra dish so it was not a big deal if I could not find what I was looking for.  The kind man apologized and pointed at 3 small pork snouts in a plastic bowl on a table behind him.  I asked myself: “Pig’s snout?” The pork butcher explained: “You can cook it in the same way as pork knuckle.  It is very tender if well cooked”.  I listened to him and went home to prepare my dinner.  I know it is easy to find ready-made bottles of louh’-sui’ (Chinese marinade) at supermarkets but I wanted to make it myself so I googled and found a few recipes. 
Note: What is Chinese marinade? This is a stock which is made with spices and sauces that is used for poaching or braising meats, or tofu (bean-curd) or even hard-boiled eggs.  In Chinese it is called 鹵水 louh’-sui’.
Pork Snout in Chinese Marinade
Adapted from a recipe found on
Ingredients for cooking snout:
  • 3 small pig snouts (~ 600gr)
  • 2 slices fresh ginger, peeled and crushed,
  • 3 spring onions cut into 2” segments
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed slightly, and left whole
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the pig snouts, ginger, spring onions, and garlic in the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.
  4. Drain the pig snouts and discard the garlic, scallions, ginger, and the water.
Ingredients for 鹵水 louh’-sui’:
  • 3 Tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. chili bean sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Chinese rock sugar (~dissolved in hot water)
  • 3 Chinese star anise, whole (baat-gok - 八角)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1 spring onion, chopped (for garnish)
Steps for poaching snout in the Chinese stock:
  1. In a medium-sized casserole, mix the rice wine, soy sauces, hoisin sauce, chili bean sauce, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, pepper, salt, and water.
  2. Bring to a simmer and add the cooked pig snouts.
  3. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 1-1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
  4. Transfer to a dish with the sauce and garnish with chopped spring onion.
  5. Serve hot with plain steamed rice.

The meat was very tender and tasted great.  I put the leftover sauce (stock) in the fridge and will use it in the coming days to braise meat.  I also put the leftover snout in another box in the fridge.  When I opened the box yesterday I noticed the sauce had solidified and turned into gelatin, which means I made a good stock!   It is also a great cold appetizer.
Although I already ate pig’s snout in France before I think it was the first time I had it in Hong Kong and for sure the first time I cooked it myself.  French people have many ways of cooking pig snout: served in salad style with mustard vinaigrette (most pork butchers are selling house-made “salade de museau” or pig’s snout salad), braised in red wine sauce, etc.
Although I know that snout isn’t to everyone’s taste I never imagined that my husband would not even want to try it.  I was surprised as he likes pig’s tail and cold sliced pig’s ear (Chiu-Chow style).  Anyway, I will make it again for people who like it and before that I wish you all a Happy, Prosperous and Healthy Year of the Horse!

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