Pig’s Trotters With Ginger and Vinegar 猪脚姜醋

Pig's Trotters With Ginger and Vinegar is a dish that new mothers in the Chinese community eat daily for a month to purify the blood, to improve blood circulation and to expel wind and dampness from the body.

Pig’s Trotters With Ginger and Vinegar is a dish that new mothers in the Chinese community eat daily for a month to purify the blood, to improve blood circulation and to expel wind and dampness from the body.
Photo courtesy of Boon, my friend, who cook this dish adapted from the recipe I provided below.

This is really a special food prepared for the Chinese mother during her confinement period which traditionally lasts 100 days. However, modern women do not have the luxury of time so in Singapore, our post natal diet and lifestyle is confined to 1 month instead. The mother-in-law of the new mother is supposed to cook her special meals in order to hasten the recovery after childbirth but sometimes, a confinement nanny is hired to do the cooking and bathing the newborn baby (new mothers are required to touch as little water as possible to avoid attracting “dampness” into their body through osmosis, which may lead to severe arthritis in old age). In the old days, new mothers had to wear socks, cover their head and do not wash their hair or bathe during the confinement period to prevent “wind”. This is definitely not the case these days but still during this time, new mothers are not allowed to shower with tap water. A special hot bath of rice wine, ginger and lemongrass water is used for their hygiene needs. Rice wine is also used to massage onto the scalp on the days the new mother is permitted to wash her hair, which must be immediately blown dry by a warm hair dryer. New mothers are prohibited to take too cooling (yin) foods or drink cold beverages.

Pig’s Trotters With Ginger & Vinegar 猪脚姜醋

Why does a new mother want to eat such fattening food you ask?
Chinese tonic and herbal cuisines are based on TCM which were the empirical findings of the Chinese physicians throughout the centuries.

The Chinese believe black vinegar can purify the blood as well as cleansing the arteries. The brown sugar keeps a check on “dampness” in the body while old ginger drives out the “wind” – all good nutrition for the new mothers.

However, black vinegar may be too “acidic” and thus weakening the tummy especially when one has to eat them daily for a month. Gelatinous ligaments from the pig’s trotters are introduced into this dish to act as protection and lubricant. Sesame oil is used here to promote blood circulation since it has heaty properties and  eggs are good source of nourishment for the new mother’s body propelling her to speedy recovery after delivery.

Pig’s Trotters With Ginger & Vinegar 猪脚姜醋

Serve hot with rice – no chilli during confinement period which is traditionally 100 days but as most working women do not have this luxury of 3 months’ unpaid leave from work, confinement period has “shorten” to 1 month.

Pig’s Trotters With Ginger & Vinegar Recipe
2 Whole Pig’s Trotters, cut into fist size chunks (approximately 2 kg).
1kg Old Ginger, peel skin and cut into thumb-size portions, bashed with pestle or blade of a cleaver.
600g Young Ginger, bashed or sliced thinly (to be consumed as much as possible).
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil.
1-2 bottle Black Sweet Rice Vinegar (Chan Kong Thye Brand).
1 litre Water (more or less, adjusting to the viscosity you like).
500g Brown Sugar or more to taste (中国黑糖 China black sugar or the alternative is shown in pic below).
4 Hard-boiled Eggs.

1. Blanch chopped pig’s trotters in boiling hot water. Use a razor and shave any excess hair off the skin of the trotters, rinse well, drain dry and set aside.

2. Heat sesame oil in wok.

3. Saute the two types of ginger till golden brown and fragrant.

4. Transfer the fried gingers into a big claypot. Add vinegar, water, and brown sugar to the claypot and bring to the boil.

5. Lower heat and let the gingers simmer for 45 minutes.

6. Add in the scalded pig’s trotters and continue to simmer over low heat for one hour.

7. Add in the hard-boiled eggs and continue simmering for another 30-45 minutes or until the trotters are very tender.

8. Serve hot with rice. Do not just eat the meat and eggs but do drink the gravy as much as you can for warmth and nourishment.

9. Whatever is leftover, just heat it up at the end of the day and heat up again the next day (heating at least twice a day). No refrigeration is allowed since that will also encourage “dampness”. When it’s ready to be eaten, just add meat to the gravy and cook. Repeat this daily until the confinement period is over.

Some of the ingredients used in this dish. Take note of the special Black Vinegar Brand used for this dish.

Some of the ingredients used in this dish.
Take note of the special Black Vinegar Brand used for this dish.
I buy the one pink label (not orange as shown here).
Photos credit to respective owners found online.

Pig’s Trotters With Ginger & Vinegar 猪脚姜醋

This recipe is not sustainable for one month – you have to keep adding what has depleted; add more meat, eggs, ginger, vinegar, brown sugar to the pot as that particular ingredient becomes short. Add according to your taste to this base.

This is an effective dish in removing “wind” from the body and it also helps to warm the body. So for men and women (even non pregnant) with “yin” body constituency, this is highly recommended.

Pig’s trotters are excellent source of iron and calcium. Extracts from the marrow and gelatinous collagen are found in the soup after hours of stewing.

The black vinegar helps purify the blood and cleanse the arteries of stale blood.

The “heatiness” of this soup may be too much for some people especially those with naturally “yang” bodies. For normal consumption, use oil instead of sesame oil.

This soup is not recommended for young children or very old folks as the soup may be too acidic for their sensitive stomachs.

Be sure to cook this soup in a claypot or ceramic ones, as the acidity of the vinegar will react with the stainless steel pots.

Some people believe that eating too much ginger may cause jaundice in babies of nursing mothers so do seek doctor’s advice if you are.

Happy nursing 🙂

15 Responses to “Pig’s Trotters With Ginger and Vinegar 猪脚姜醋”
  1. Sofia says:

    Such an interesting post, Sam! I love the part about the sock and not washing hair, thank goodness its not like that now. But.. does this mean that if you don’t do that you get “wind”? hehe

    • Sam Han says:

      Chinese believe that when a woman delivers, her pores are open and very susceptible to wind. We get wind and dampness throught the feet (in) and we lose warmth (chi) of our body through the head (out), so we need to take extra care on these two parts of our body during this month. What the mother does in this one month may worsen or strengthen her body for the next few decades of her life 🙂

      • Sofia says:

        If it affects her body for the next few decades, following these guidelines must be very important then! 🙂

        • Sam Han says:

          Yes, confinement to the chinese or asian women is a very important event. that is why you see some asian mothers flying half way round the way to cook for their overseas daughters when they deliver.

          • Sofia says:

            Well the truth is that delivering is a very important and strenuous event, the body must afterwards try to recover as well as possible!

          • Sam Han says:

            Yup, i did not follow the traditional way for my first delivery and suffered during the 2 years but I held my nose and drank a lot of this vinegar gravy for my second delivery and I do feel a difference after that. A lot of “illness” can be “cured” or “incurred” during the confinement period as we believe our body “open” up and is very susceptible to good and bad elements, so good intake of food and avoiding the taboos are treated with special attention.

  2. Kev Ollier says:

    definitely interesting!

  3. ahhhhh… as delicious as it looks, pig’s trotters, chicken’s feet etc, i can’t do it!

  4. fortunately, being a gentleman (sort of) it is less necessary for me.

  5. Bob C says:

    Semi thank you for sharing your trotter recipe with me. I lived in Indonesia for a year and now back in Hawaii, my point is your so right food is the bonding of our souls through the Love in our Hearts.

    • Sam Han says:

      Thanks for sharing your kind thoughts Bob. I lived in Jakarta for 3 years previously and it is a very interesting place. I have been to Hawaii more than 15 years ago and it would be nice to visit again one day. I hope you are having a great time there! 😀

  6. Christine Y says:

    Hi Semi, I live in the Emirates and it will be a challenge to get fresh pig trotters… have you seen the recipe being used with Canned Pig Trotters? Just wondering what will be an alternative here…. Thanks a lot! Christine

    • Sam Han says:

      Hi Christine, are you referring to using canned pig trotters as substitute? I have not come across and would not recommend as canned pig trotters usually have been seasoned and cooked (may break down too much if you continue to stew with ginger). The “healing” effect would also be different (if not none) than those cooked from fresh. Is there a way to get frozen ones?

      Thanks for visiting.

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