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[Recipe] Patatim (braised pork leg with straw mushrooms, asparagus, and pineapple bits in sweet and savory sauce)

Patotim (braised pork leg)
One of my favorite pork dishes and often served during special occasions, Patatim is surprisingly easy to prepare. Its cousin, the duck dish called Patotim, is equally tasty. It has a sweet-savory flavor with the sweetness mostly coming from pineapple juice and the savory comes from salty soy sauce and oyster sauce. I like incorporating asparagus tips to the dish whether canned or fresh as it lends a distinctive flavor to the final result. Straw mushrooms and tenga ng daga (cloud ear fungus) are oftentimes included (primarily for texture since these doesn't have strong flavors). Subtle hints of star anise and cinnamon bark flavor are also present

Patatim is best paired with freshly cooked rice. Although distinctly considered as Filipino food, it has roots in Chinese cuisine (perhaps evolving from the local Filipino-Chinese community).

As mentioned above, this recipe is very similar to Patotim, but using duck as the protein. See my Patotim recipe previously posted here.

1 Kilo Pata (pork leg) preferably front, whole or broken down/sliced
1 liter of pork stock or alternately equivalent amount of pork bouillon cubes in a liter of water
1 cup pineapple juice (unsweetened)
half a cup of pineapple bits
half a cup of straw mushrooms (sliced in halves)
1 can of white asparagus spears or equivalent amount of fresh asparagus tips
1/2 cup toyo (salty soy sauce)
1/2 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch (for thickening of sauce)
1 medium sized onion, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, minced
2 pcs bay leaves
3 pieces star anise
2 sticks of rolled up cinnamon bark
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
coconut sugar (optional - to adjust sweetness)
more salty soy sauce (optional - to adjust the saltiness)

You can make use of either a pressure cooker or a slow cooker to slowly braise the pork leg. In my case, I like using my medium-sized pressure cooker for faster cooking times.

In a medium-sized pressure cooker, saute onions and garlic in some vegetable oil under medium heat until onion caramelizes. Place the pork leg in the pot and brown a little before pouring in the pork stock and add in the whole peppercorns. Add more water (only if the stock is not enough to cover the meat) in the pot until it just covers the pork. Bring the pot to a boil, cover the pressure cooker and let it pressurize until steam comes out. Lower the temperature until the pressure from the steam just barely lifts the counterweight of the pot (just a little amount of steam comes out). Cook under pressure for 25 minutes.

Once the cooker is depressurized and the cover removed, bring it back to a boil. Add in the pineapple juice, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Let it boil for another 10 minutes, then add the star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon bark. Add in the mushrooms and pineapple bits. Let the liquid reduce for another 15 minutes. The gelatin in the pork cartilage should naturally thicken the sauce but to help it thicken further, dissolve the cornstarch in just enough water and add it into the boiling liquid. Stir thoroughly into the pot. You can adjust the taste using soy sauce and/or coconut sugar.

Serve piping hot with freshly cooked rice and enjoy.

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