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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Crispy Fried Pork Hock With Chilli Caramel with Steamed Rice And Spicy Thai Salad

Let me tell you, December is the worst time of the year to make this recipe, simply because it’s Christmas time. Christmas time means everyone is buying legs of ham and these legs of ham all have the Hock attached, so almost no butchers are prepared to sell you a pork hock, unless you order them in advance. After searching every butcher at South Melbourne Market, I came across one butcher at the Queen Vic Market which had Pork Hocks! I bought 3 hocks for $7. Not bad for feeding 6 people.
From what I can make out, this is one of the longest preparation times for a recipe in Ezard’s book. First you have to make the stock and leave it overnight, then you have to roll the hocks and cook them in the stock for 3 hours and leave them to cool in the stock until cold. Once cold, you remove them and leave them in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Then you’ll have to deep fry the hocks, as well as make the dressing, sauce and salad. You have to be dedicated to this dish if you’re planning on making it, but believe me you and your guests will not be disappointed, the dish is absolutely amazing and you can taste why this is one of Ezard’s signature dishes.
I have actually found this recipe listed on the ABC Radio’s website, so on this occasion I can give you the recipe.
Most of the dry ingredients for this recipe I found at Laguna Asian Supermarket, at QV in the city. You’ll probably need to go to an Asian Supermarket to find things like the cooking wine, licorice root and dried mandarin peel. Everything else like salad ingredients, etc, I grabbed from the grocery stores down at Victoria St, Richmond.
This is a surprisingly cheap dish to make, all up it cost me about $25 to feed 6 people. However, the price is kept down by shopping at the remarkably cheap Asian stores. If you were to buy the same/similar ingredients at Coles, Safeway, etc, I can see this dish costing at least double that price.

First of all you need to make your Master Stock as per the recipe. You will need to leave this infuse for at least 12 hours in the fridge, like a big cup of fragrant tea.

Next day, you will need to roll up your pork hocks in muslin, keeping the skin on the outside and then tieing them up in a nice, neat little package.

You then need to bring the stock back to the boil and place your hocks in the stock and place the pot into the oven, covered for about 2 – 3 hours. I left mine for the full 3 hours.

Then you need to leave them cool until cold in the stock. Once cool, take the hocks out and pat dry with paper towel. When they’re dry, place them on a plate and put into a fridge and leave overnight. This will help them hold their shape for when you deep fry them.

After at least 12 hours, your pork hocks will be ready for cooking, so prepare your salad, your caramel sauce and your salad dressing.

Ezard’s book calls for a Crispy Fried Shallot garnish, but the picture shows the hocks with candied chillies, which I thought looked very cool, so I did those instead. These are basically just chillies cooked in a sugar syrup for 10 mins. After 10 mins the chillies go translucent and look great! You will also need to cook some Jasmine Rice to serve with your hocks, which help balance out the sweetness of the caramel sauce.

When you’ve got all of your extras ready, you’re ready to cook your pork hocks.
You will need to get at least 2 litres of vegetable oil into a wok to deep fry them (the recipe called for 4 litres, but that would have been too much for me. You will need to heat the oil to 180c and slowly add the pork hocks. Now be VERY careful here, the pork hocks in oil do spit and is VERY dangerous. I copped a couple of nice burns to my arms and forehead, so be careful and consider some safety eyewear like I’m sporting in my photo.

The pork hocks are ready when the skins are dark and caramelized. Unfortunately, when I was cooking the hocks, I was at a friend’s house and they have an electric stove, which makes it extremely difficult to get the oil to the correct temperature. I kept my hocks in the hot oil for 10 minutes, but they still didn’t go crispy or really cook brown enough. This is just really because the oil wasn’t hot enough. I didn’t really want to leave them in much longer, because a couple of them were starting to unroll and lose their shape.

Place the dressed salad on the plate.

Drizzle some caramel sauce around the plate, top with a pork hock and put your garnish on top. Presto!

The people I was cooking for were definitely impressed by this dish and the fact that the meat literally melts apart on the plate, it is one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten! It was a pity that the skin didn’t go crispy, but everyone still loved it.

If I ever make it again, I would make sure firstly that the oil was hot enough and also that I cooked my caramel out for a bit longer until it was more golden. Unfortunately as I left the caramel until the last minute, I wanted to stop it early for fear of burning it. However, I don’t think the taste would have changed all that much and was still delicious!

If ever you want to impress your friends and are willing to take a couple of days to prepare a dish, this one is the go! It’s really not that hard and is definitely worth the effort!


Ange said...

Wow, what a mamoth challenge this recipe is, sounds delicious & good on you for making the time for it. Love Ezhards food & looking fwd to seeing your recreations of his recipes!

Mr. Li Fan said...

looks pretty tasty... i usually just boil the heck out of hock and then sauteed it with soysauce to give it that color and taste.