Called paksiw na pata in the Philippines, sweet sour pork hock stew has a complex flavor emanating from the seasonings and spices. Paksiw is a Filipino cooking method. With fish and seafood, paksiw means cooking with a sour base. The souring agent is usually vinegar or kamias.
When cooking meat, paksiw means stewing the meat in a mixture that often includes soy sauce, sugar and vinegar. With paksiw na pata, a few sprigs of dried oregano and handful of bulaklak ng saging is added for flavor. Despite the name, bulaklak ng saging (literally, banana blossoms) does not come from the banana plant. They are dried lily buds. What is known in the west as banana blossoms is called puso ng saging (literally, banana heart) locally.
Pork hock may be the front or hind leg and may or may not include the knuckles. The front hock is preferred since it is meatier. Whether you want to include the knuckles is up to you. Note, though, that it is the tendons in the knuckles that gives the sauce of this sweet sour pork hock stew its distinctively rich and rather sticky texture.
Sweet Sour Pork Hock Stew (Paksiw na Pata)
- 1 pork hock chopped through the bone into one-inch slices
- 1/3 cup vinegar
- 1/3 cup dark soy sauce
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar tightly packed
- 1 whole whole garlic pierced with a sharp pointed knife in several sections
- 3 to 4 shallots peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 small hanful bulaklak ng saging
- few sprigs dried oregano
Rinse the pork hock slices well and place in a casserole. Pour in just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil and let boil for ten minutes. Throw out the water and rinse the meat. This process gets rid of all the scum.
Rinse the casserole and put the pork back in. Pour in water to barely cover the meat. Add the rest of the ingredients. Slow cook for an hour and a half to two hours or until very tender. The meat should literally fall off from the bones. Check the liquid once in a while; add about 1/2 to 3/4 c. of water if the mixture gets too dry during cooking.
Alternatively, pressure-cook for an hour. When pressure-cooking, reduce the amount of water to only about 1 and 1/2 cups.
Taste the sauce occasionally and adjust the seasonings, as needed.
Serving suggestion: Chill overnight. Carefully separate the meat from the bones and cut into two-inch chunks. Discard the bones, bulaklak ng saging, oregano and bay leaf. Reheat the meat with the sauce; add more soy sauce, vinegar or sugar, if necessary. Serve hot.