"This was one of the most popular meat dishes at Neddy's in the '80s - most guests would have liked a huge pork hock with the wood fungus in spicy sauce all to themselves," says Adelaide's Cheong Liew, dean of East-West cooking in Australia. "It was so popular, Max Schubert, the father of Penfolds Grange, requested this dish to match with one of his vintage launches at Neddy's around the time. This is an ancient Chinese method of braising joints or game meat, with the gelatinous skin and velvety meat in a rich, spicy, dark, sweet sauce. After marinating, the meat is deep-fried until the skin is crisp, then braised in several sauces. Paradoxically, the deep-frying process further reduces the fattiness of the meat because the fat is released into the oil. The rich sauce and light meat make this a tantalising meal. Wood fungus is added to absorb all the rich flavours of the sauce and meat, giving another texture to the dish. This Chinese hunter-style recipe could be applied to any game meat. I like to serve it with Chinese greens and shallow-fried potatoes."
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 100 gm wood-ear fungus, soaked if dried, or trimmed if fresh
- 60 gm rock sugar, crushed (see note)
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- Blanched Asian greens, to serve
Marinated pork hock
- 2 pork hocks (about 1kg each)
- 2 spring onions
- 4 thick slices ginger
- 2 tbsp rice wine
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger juice (see note)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 large dried red chillies
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 golden shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 3 star anise
- 1 tbsp fermented brown beans, finely chopped (see note)
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp Korean sweet chilli paste (see note)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 3 litres chicken stock
- 100 gm hoisin sauce
- 4 cubes red fermented beancurd (see note)
- 3 cubes white fermented beancurd (see note)
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 1For marinated pork hock, sprinkle hocks with salt and stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Place hocks in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add spring onions and ginger and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until skin softens (30 minutes). Place hocks in a bowl, add rice wine, soy sauce and ginger juice and rub into hocks. Set aside to cool.
- 2Heat oil in a deep saucepan or large wok to 170C. Pat hocks dry with paper towels and deep-fry one at a time (careful, hot oil will spit) until browned (8-10 minutes). Remove from oil, plunge into a large bowl of iced water and stand until completely cool (30 minutes). Drain well.
- 3For beancurd sauce, heat oils in a wok over medium heat, add chillies, garlic, shallot, ginger, star anise and fermented brown beans, and stir-fry to combine. Add sugar and stir until caramelised (1-2 minutes), then add sweet chilli paste and soy sauces and stir to combine. Add chicken stock, hoisin, beancurds, tahini and rice wine and bring to the boil.
- 4Add hocks to beancurd sauce and simmer uncovered until meat is tender (1-1½ hours). Add fungus, rock sugar and oyster sauce, and simmer until meat is starting to fall from the bone (30-40 minutes). Serve meat, fungus and sauce with blanched Asian greens.
Rock sugar and all Asian ingredients can be found at Asian supermarkets and select Chinese grocers. For ginger juice, finely grate ginger, then squeeze out juice. You’ll need about 60gm of ginger for 1 tbsp juice.