Traditionally, cooking braised pork hock begins by browning the meat on the stovetop in a wok with smoking hot oil. The pork leg is rolled around to give every inch of the skin a chance to blister beautifully. This blistering gives the skin a delighful chewiness that is retained even after the long braising that follows.
I don’t like oil spatters. So, to blister the pork skin, I use the oven for convenience. Less mess and less chance of hot oil landing on my skin too. At 475F, the pork skin blisters as though it had been rolled in hot oil.
Once the skin has browned and blistered, the braising begins. The pork hock is transferred to the slow cooker where it will cook over low heat in a mixture of bone broth and soy sauce. Garlic, ginger, shallots, peppercorns, bay leaves and star anise complete the spice profile.
What kind of bone broth is ideal? Personally, I find that very lightly salted chicken bone broth is best. That way, most of the saltiness will be derived from the soy sauce. Both the meat and the sauce will taste richer that way.
If your bone broth is well salted, there are two options: Dilute it with water or ditch the bone broth and just use water. The hock has a huge bone anyway and the slow cooking will have the effect of turning the water into broth as the pork hock cooks.
Slow cooker braised pork hock
- 1.5 kilograms pork hock - with or without the trotter
- ½ head garlic
- 1 two-inch piece ginger
- 2 shallots
- ½ teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 3 cups bone broth
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch - or potato or corn starch
- 12 baby corns
- 2 to 4 clusters of bok choy
- Preheat the oven to 475F. If your oven temperature can go higher than that, set it at the highest temperature.
- Rinse the pork hock, wipe dry with a kitchen towel then position on a rack (with a tray underneath to catch drippings) and roast until the skin blisters, around 45 to 55 minutes.
- Transfer the pork hock to the slow cooker.
- Throw in the garlic, ginger, shallots, peppercorns, bay leaves and star anise.
- Pour in the broth.
- Season with soy sauce and sugar (the amount of each depends on how the broth had been seasoned; just find the balance that pleases your taste buds).
- Set the slow cooker to HIGH.
- After an hour, reduce the heat to LOW. Cook the pork hock for another five hours, or a total of six hours in the slow cooker.
- About 30 minutes before the cooking time is up, dissolve the starch in one-fourth cup of water and pour into the slow cooker in a thin stream.
- Cook the baby corn and bok choy in salted water, then drain.
- To serve, scoop out the pork hock and transfer to a serving bowl. Strain the thickened sauce and pour over the meat. Arrange the baby corn and bok choy on the side.
- Serve the Chinese-style braised pork hock with rice or with Chinese buns.