SINGAPORE - Call him the "confinement daddy".
Mr Linus Eng, 50, a director in a building construction company, made vinegar pork trotters for his wife's confinement after she gave birth to their second daughter, Kay Ling, who is now 12.
Since then, he has been making batches of his signature dish for friends during their confinement month.
The dish is usually consumed in the period after a woman gives birth as it is believed to nourish and warm the body.
The dissolved calcium from the pork bones, says Mr Eng, also helps women to regain any loss in calcium.
He developed his own recipe after comparing recipes on the Internet and getting tips from provision shop owners when he buys his groceries. Unlike other recipes, he says he achieves a greater depth of flavours by using two types of vinegar and two types of ginger.
Mr Eng also adopts the traditional method of preparing the stock a day in advance, so that the ginger and vinegar flavours can be infused.
He says: "This becomes your master stock and you can use it as a base to make more portions. When you leave it to rest, it mellows the flavour of the vinegar."
After cooking the pork trotters, there is even more waiting, as he leaves the dish to rest with the hard-boiled eggs for half a day so that the flavours infuse into the eggs.
While his process may be more time-consuming and laborious, it results in a deliciously sweet and savoury dish where the gravy goes perfectly drizzled over rice.
"It's actually very easy to make," he says, "You must be patient with food."
Besides making this dish for family gatherings over the weekend, the youngest of three siblings also whips up dishes like ayam buah keluak, Thai chicken curry, pasta, and roast pork belly.
His homemade ngoh hiang - paired with a spicy belachan which he learnt from his mother-in-law - is also a winning dish.
His wife Ginny, 46, is a director in the real estate sector. Their elder daughter, Eng Ting, is 15.
From the Father's Day cards pasted in the house, it is clear that his children are fans of his cooking.
Part of the sweet message in this year's card reads: "Thank you for cooking good food for the whole family."
The doting dad adds: "Cooking is fun and if we don't go out on weekends, there's also nothing much to do."
He does 5am wet market runs on the weekend to stock up on groceries for the week.
His well-equipped kitchen includes a wide variety of dried goods and snacks, as well as packets of homemade rempah and bottles of hong zao jiu (red glutinous rice wine).
He adds with a laugh: "My refrigerator is like a FairPrice supermarket. The kitchen is my territory."
VINEGAR PORK TROTTERS
- 7 Tbs sesame oil
- 400g old ginger, peeled and sliced into thick slices
- 200g young ginger, peeled and sliced into thick slices
- 750ml vinegar (Chan Kong Thye black sweet rice vinegar, pink label)
- 300ml Zhejiang black vinegar
- 750ml water
- 150g gula melaka or brown sugar
- 1 pork trotter (about 1.5kg), chopped and blanched in hot water
- 8 hard-boiled eggs
1. Heat five tablespoons of sesame oil in a non-metal pot (a claypot or ceramic pot is recommended). Fry about two-thirds of the old and young ginger for a few minutes till fragrant. Set aside the rest for cooking the next day.
2. Add both vinegars, water and gula melaka to the pot. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Cover the vinegar and leave it to rest before use. It can be kept for up to two weeks at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
3. When ready to cook: In a separate non-metal pot, heat two tablespoons of sesame oil and fry the remaining ginger for a few minutes till fragrant. Then add the blanched pork trotters and cook on high heat for five to eight minutes.
4. Scoop the prepared vinegar from the other pot - enough to almost cover the pork trotters. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 60 minutes.
5. Add the hard-boiled eggs and turn the heat off. Leave it to rest for half a day, so that the eggs get infused with the vinegar flavour.
6. Reheat when ready to eat, and serve with rice.
7. After eating, do not discard the left-over vinegar. Filter it into a bowl and refrigerate it. Then mix with any leftover vinegar from step 4 to cook another pot of pig trotters for added flavour.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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