kruizing with kikukat

Monday, December 30, 2013

Comfort in a Bowl: Trotter Soup

Christmas came and went at the Kikukat house.  The Ds got a lot of goodies, and The Help treated me to an Amazon Prime membership.  I wanted to get him a new monopod (for shooting football games), but he waved me off.  He had to settle for a Ping golf shirt instead.  Poor buggah!

I finally got around to seeing Edz, whom I missed dearly.  Now that I work across town, I don't get to do the "pop in" on him at work.  We had lunch at Hilo Bay Cafe.  It was really nice, and I always kick myself as to why we don't have lunch more often.  I got to show off my new pair of Dr. Martens to him.  Only Edz could give UGeo a run for his money when it comes to shopping.  When we lived in Honolulu, Edz and I would often spend Sundays worshipping at the House (Liberty House Ala Moana) and then having lunch at Orson's.    Edz would have the po' boy and I would have oysters rockefeller.  I guess I'm showing my age because Orson's closed a long time ago.

I also got to do lunch with Brucie!  I haven't lunched with Brucie since fall intersession.  I'm hoping to see more of him during high school basketball season.

In a few hours I will get to see LA & SN.  They are here until the 3rd.  Other out-of-town ohana arrived a few days ago. . .UMiles & AKathy and AChar.  Jin Young from Korea arrived last month.  I suppose I will have lots of family obligations these next few days.  I'm sad OT & Dus couldn't make it home.  The Help has been keeping a watchful eye on Dus' bottle of Jameson Gold Reserve.  OT could help me kill the Kraken.  Kikukat Dad is so proud of OT's ability to consume alcohol!

Right now it is storming in Hilo, and I mean STORMING.  I'm worried about the pv system and my car because we had hail last night/this morning.  I am certain that when this storm is over, there will be a thick layer of snow on Mauna Kea.  LA & SN will have a bumpy flight coming in to Hilo!

Anyway, its almost new years eve, and that means one thing to me. . .pig feet soup.  While many people enjoy a huge spread of food at holiday parties, on new years eve, I much prefer to have a bowl of soup.  Soup is the ultimate comfort food, and there are few things which provide more comfort than pig feet soup.

I have fond memories of sitting down to a steaming hot bowl of pig feet soup for dinner.  The silky feel of the pork skin, sucking on the rounded knuckle bones, bits of char floating in the broth. . .all evoke a strong sense of nostalgia.  As I got older, I began dipping pieces of the succulent meat in freshly grated ginger mixed with shoyu.

Both Mr. Dependable and The Help have become pig feet soup converts as well.  Mr. Dependable grew up in a house which served sweet-sour pig feet, and he was certainly not fond of it.  The closest The Help ever got to pig feet was a smoked ham hock. 

What can I say?  I grew up eating pig feet.  Kikukat Mom made it sweet-sour style (hers wasn't as puckery as Mr. Dependable's mom).  We often had a jar of Hormel pickled pig feet in the fridge that Kikukat Dad and I would eat for dinner (with a generous splash of shoyu).  Mt. View gramma braised pig feet with peppercorns and bay leaf. . .kinda like adobo, but not as puckery either.  And I'm guessing it was Mt. View gramma who taught Kikukat Dad how to make pig feet soup.

I was in college when I realized pig feet wasn't eaten in every household.  My townie roommate (from Hawaii Kai) said she never tasted pig feet in her life.  My other roommate, who was also my high school classmate, once bought me a jar of pickled pig feet just so she could watch me eat it. . .she couldn't believe people actually ate the stuff in the jar which grossed her out.

One thing about pig feet that does gross me out is when the stubble isn't completely cleaned.  I singe the pig feet on the grill outside.  What doesn't burn off gets yanked with fish tweezers.  Yes, that does take a while, but its worth it to me not to see black stubble on the skin.

Pig feet soup is best made the day before you plan to eat it.  If you have a pressure cooker and a fat separator, it can be made and eaten on the same day.  While the flavor comes from the skin, try and find pieces with lots of meat.  Some people add araimo (dasheen).  I don't like to add it because it makes the broth slimy. . . same reason why I never add konbu.  If you are like me and use this as your ozoni soup (I don't like the pink ear thing), heat the mochi separately and add it to each individual bowl instead of adding the mochi to the pot.

 click on recipe title for printable recipe
Pig Feet Soup

     2-3 lbs pig feet
     3-4 thumb-size pieces of ginger, smashed
     2 tsp hondashi
     2 tsp salt
     2 tbsp shoyu
     additions:  togan (winter melon chunks), watercress, won bok, sliced daikon, carrots, mochi

Singe pig feet over flame to burn off hairs.  Place in a pot and cover with water.  Boil rapidly for 15 minutes.  Discard water and rinse scum off pieces.  Place cleaned pig feet in a large pot.  Add 10 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.  Refrigerate overnight.  Skim hardened fat from surface (there should not be much).  Add ginger, hondashi, salt, shoyu, and any "additions" (consider how long additions will take to cook; togan chunks will take about 40 minutes)  and cook for 1 hour.

I spent some time in the kitchen this past week.  I made mini M & M cookies for Santa and I also updated an earlier recipe, Lemon Cake.  The recipe now includes directions for baking mini loaves, perfect for gift-giving.  D1's coaches, her club advisor, and her friend AC were the lucky recipients of lemon cake. 

Emotional first aid was also provided to my boss, as he wrestled with calibrating his oven temperature.  He had a lemon-lilikoi bar project going.

Sadly, it was I who probably needed the emotional first aid most.  I started and re-started a knitting project.  The first time, I made just 2 inches of the cowl before I realized I dropped a stitch.  The second time, I was over half-way through when I discovered I was missing a stitch.  Son of a bitch!  I don't know why I torture myself with this thing called knitting.

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