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Chinese preparations for pig's heads


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I've got a few pigs heads I really need to use up because they are taking up valuable freezer space. I've made plenty of brawn in the past, but I want to do something different with these, and not as fiddly as TFL recipe for rolled head!

I'm guessing there must be some good chinese style recipes for head? They seem to value pork fat, and let's face it, that's mostly what a head is. I'm thinking the steam and then crisp approach must be good, but would welcome any experience, or real recipes. Fuschia Dunlop has let me down for once :-)

Thanks

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I'm guessing there isn't much experience of this on the forum, so I thought I'd have a go. I've no idea how "traditional" this is, but I based it on a recipe for belly pork from Fuschia Dunlop's Revolutionary Cookbook.

First take your pig's head. Remove remaining hair. I think a razor does this best, but a blow torch does it fastest. I use a blow torch. You really need to give it a good scrape with a sharp knife after that to remove as much bristle as possible.

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Remove the meat and skin in one piece. It wouldn't be the end of the world if it came off in a few pieces, but it's easier to handle later in a single piece. I did this at lunchtime and wasn't going to cook with it for a few hours so I popped it in a plastic bag with some crushed ginger, garlic, salt and shaosing wine. I'm not sure if that made much difference to the finished dish.

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Place head in pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes.

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Dry head on a towel. Rub with shaosing wine. Not too much - it's going to splatter you next.

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Fry in hot oil for 3-4 minutes.

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Drain on paper towels.

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Place skin side down and slice into approx 1cm wide slices. Nothing longer than about 8cm. Lay slices in a ceramic bowl with the skin touching the bowl. Sprinkle with 3tbsp salted black beans, 2tbsp light soy sauce and 2tbsp dark soy sauce. Place bowl in a steamer and steam for 1.5 - 2 hours.

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There's no hiding there is a lot of fat and gelatinous skin in this. Ideally I would have served with better pickled veg - something crunchy that had been in brine for a few days, but plenty of plain and pickled veg is going to be best for this I think. Here it's with some bean sprouts dressed with rice wine vinegar, chilli, garlic, light soy sauce and coriander. Green peppers fried in hot oil for a few mins and dressed with a little salt and rice wine vinegar. And some steamed brocolli tossed in hot oil and chopped ginger, with sesame seed oil drizzled on in the bowl.

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Get the snout before somebody else does!

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I am glad you found a way to cook your pig heads and enjoyed them, sheepish.

But be honest pig heads (just the heads) are not on any Chinese menu that I know. Cantonese/Shanghainese/Sichuanese/etc.

Cantonese do roast a whole pig with the head. And we use the roast pig head for offerrings to the Gods/Goddesses. But to my knowledge we don't cook just the head. Probably because there really isn't much edible part. Pig ear, sure. Pig tongue, I think so. Pig brain, we cook it. But the rest of the head? Not sure.

From a native Cantonese.

- Ah Leung

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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At the Ranch 99 Market here and at an other Asian super market they always have the whole roast pig hanging next to the ducks etc, the head resting on a tray underneath. And while I have yet to ask what to do with it, depending on when you get there, there's less and less meat on it. My assumption was that people buy it to eat it? Of course, this market caterers to everybody Asian and beyond, but my understanding was that this preparation in Chinese?

I'm curious about different ways to cook the head, as I'll also be getting a free one or two, once I made some room in the freezer.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Thanks for the comments. I'm not really surprised no one puts heads on their menu, but I assume any country that eats pork must have at sometime not been able to waste part of the animal. In the UK we have a tradition of brawn, which I've made a lot of before. Thats a head simmered for hours with some spices and stock veg, then shredded and packed into a terrine and set in it's own jelly. I know that's well known in France too. Even my local supermarket sells that, although in quantities that suggest they don't sell much! And where I live the supermarkets don't cater for very adventurous eaters. Without wishing to sound in any way condescending, I always thought of the Chinese as eating every part of the animal, so was just surprised there didn't seem to be any documented traditional preparations I could find. Recipes for ears, and tails and trotters are not difficult to find on the internet. I was just surprised there was nothing for heads. And although there isn't a lot of meat, the cheeks are superb. I've had them in some very high-end European restaurants.

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For my brother's 60th bday, 15 years ago, we had a whole BBQ pig, head and all. He thought he was really treating his staff by saving the head for them, but they were totally grossed out (Caucasian staff). :laugh:

We cut off and ate what little meat and crispy skin there was. The bones were used to make a huge pot of stock - for congee, for various vegetable soups (watercress, gai choi, etc).

Edited to add: Here in Canada, the Ukrainain folks use the "meat" from the pig's head to make head cheese with gelatin- much like terrine.

Edited by Dejah (log)

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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head cheese is sure being made in Germany also, and it's really delicious, different from every butcher. I have to find out though, if there are other recipes. They sell pig's heads at some butchers and I can't quite imagine it's for head cheese making at home.

The head also ends up in a big pig boil, just boiled head, tongue, heart, cooked in nothing but water, no salt, no anything, until well cooked and super tender. Served with bread and a spoon of salt and pepper to dip into. Doesn't get much more traditional Bavarian, usually a preparation made the day of slaughter. And yes, the snout goes in it, my dad had it on his plate, pix on my blog: Diablo Kitchen

I did taste some of the snout, though I'd cut it into smaller pieces, not quite as recognizable...

Yummy stuff!

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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