Thrice cooked pata tim
I used to cook pata tim by marinating, frying then braising the pork pata (leg). Somehow, the meat never reaches the stage of tenderness that Chinese restaurants are famous for. The skin of the pata sticks to the cooking pan during braising before the meat reaches the desired tenderness. So I thought I’d revise the cooking procedure. To cook last night’s pata tim, I first boiled the pork pata in highly seasoned water. Then, I placed it in the convection oven for about 35 minutes to make the rind crispy. Finally, I steamed it for another 45 minutes. This time, it was as tender as the pata in the Chinese restaurants. The meat was falling off the bones and the texture was moist and wonderful.
1 whole pork pata (front)
1 whole garlic
a thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 whole onion
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
a teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 c. of soy sauce
1/8 c. of honey, dark corn syrup or molasses
sesame seed oil
a bunch of pechay (pei tsai), ends trimmed
Wash the pata wall. Scape off the skin with a knife. Remove any remaining hairs with a kitchen torch. Make a deep incision on the joint that separates the leg from the feet. Place in a large cooking pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, removing scum as it rises. Pour in the soy sauce and the corn syrup, molasses or honey. Add the garlic, ginger, onion, peppercorns, oregano, bay leaf and star anise. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Alternatively, pressure cook for an hour counting from the time the valve starts to turn. Cool in the sauce. When cool, transfer to a plate and continue cooling.
Strain the sauce. Add more salt if necessary.
Place the pata in an oven proof dish and place in the convection oven set at maximum heat. Cook until the rind starts to get puffy. Remove from the oven and transfer to a clean heat proof bowl. Pour over the strained sauce. Steam over simmering water for another 40 to 45 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the trimmed pechay. Turn off the heat and drizzle with a teaspoonful of sesame seed oil.
You can serve the pata tim in the same bowl in which it was steamed or carefully transfer to a plate, arrange the pechay around it and pour over the sauce.