Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paksiw na Pata

Filipino Bitter Sweet Banana Blossom Stewed Pork Leg!  Paksiw na Pata is a tasty traditional Filipino recipe!
     This is a very easy recipe to make, but like many Philippine slow cooking recipes, the slow simmering process can go on for hours and the pot needs to be tended occasionally.  The ingredients for paksiw na pata never change.  If you look at any recipe for this entree, the ingredients and cooking techniques remain the same every time.  The only variable is whether the banana blossoms are fresh or dried.  Canned banana blossoms are taboo, because they have no flavor.
     Many people describe paksiw na pata as vinegar pork leg.  There is quite a bit of vinegar in this recipe, but sugar balances the flavor.  The pork leg reference is the same as what Americans call hocks.  The hocks should not be cured like ham.  Uncured ham hocks are called pork hocks.  Cured pork hocks are called ham hocks.  All smoked ham hocks are cured before smoking.  Raw uncured pork hocks is the correct choice for this recipe.
     Sections of the fore leg should be cut through the bone into thick pieces.  Each piece should have the skin and fat attached.  Each pork hock should have the bone in the middle.  The joint piece should be avoided.  The pork leg pieces should resemble Italian veal fore leg shin bone osso bucco.  Be sure to select pork hocks that have plenty of meat on them.
     Either fresh or dried banana blossoms are added late in the recipe after the pork hocks have simmered till they almost become tender.  The banana blossoms add a very nice complimentary tropical bitter flower flavor and hint of banana flavor to the pork and sauce.  Banana blossoms are the stamen of a banana flower and they are bitter tasting.  A whole fresh banana flower can be used for this recipe, but most recipes only call for the blossoms.  The outer petals of a banana flower actually taste and look like artichoke petals.  Many other Philippine recipes do require the whole banana flower or just the petals.  The petals can also be cooked as a vegetable.
     The vegetable for this entree was one that I thought of at a small French cafe, when the produce order was never delivered one day.  All I had was pineapple, yama blanco and carrots on hand, so I made due.  Because carrots and pineapple are a tropical style combination, I ran a special du jour board of South Pacific and caribbean entrees that day.  Every customer raved about the stewed carrots and pineapple!  They really liked it!
     I got the stewed pineapple, yama blanco and carrots idea from some Hawaiian food pictures in a magazine that I saw years before.  Not much pineapple is eaten in Hawaii, because the locals get very tired of it.  People think Hawaiians stand around eating pineapple all day long, after looking at Hawaiian food pictures in magazines.  Anyone from Hawaii will state otherwise.  Pineapple is tourist food!
     Paksiw na Pata:
     This recipe makes 1 serving!
     Place 2 thick pork leg pieces (thick uncured fresh pork hocks) into a sauce pot.  The pork hocks should weigh 6 to 8 ounces apiece.
     Add enough water to cover the pork hocks with 1/2" of extra liquid.
     Add 1/3 cup of rice vinegar.
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 3 tablespoons of palm sugar or brown sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of granulated sugar or raw sugar (pilancillo).
     Add 6 to 8 chopped garlic cloves.
     Add 1 large bay leaf.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to low/very low heat.
     Gently simmer the pork legs, till the the pork hocks start to become tender.  This may take 2 to 3 hours!  Add water occasionally to keep the pork hocks covered with liquid.
     Add 6 or 7 fresh or dried banana blossoms.  (I used rinsed dried banana blossoms for this recipe.  Banana blossoms can be found at asian markets.  The blossom is the stamen and not the whole flower.)
     Simmer and reduce, till the liquid becomes the consistency of a thin glace sauce.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Keep the Paksiw na Pata warm over very low heat.
     Stewed Pineapple, Yama Blanco and Carrots:
     This is a nice tropical vegetable recipe.  Yama blanco is called white yam, but it is really a red skin sweet potato.
     Place 1/2 cup of large bite size cube shaped pieces of peeled white yam in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of carrot that is cut into large bite size pieces.
     Add enough water to barely cover the ingredients.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer the yam and carrot pieces, till they become halfway cooked.
     Add 1/2 cup of pineapple juice.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1/2 cup of bite size pineapple pieces.
     Simmer, till the vegetables become cooked tender.
     Add 3 pats of unsalted butter.
     Keep the vegetables and pineapple warm over very low heat.

     Paksiw na Pata with Stewed Pineapple, Yama Blanco and Carrots:
     Place the Paksiw na Pata on a plate.
     Spoon the glace sauce and banana blossoms over the pork leg pieces.
     Use a slotted spoon to place the stewed pineapple, white yam and carrots on the plate. 
     Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.
     Serve with steamed white jasmine rice on the side.
     This is some down home tropical Filipino cooking!  The pork leg pieces are very tender after simmering for a long time.  The reduced stewed banana blossom glaze sauce tastes like a bitter sweet sour teriyaki sauce.  The pineapple flavored white yam and carrots is a very nice accompaniment.
     This is a nice Filipino recipe!  This entree makes me miss the great Filipino restaurants back home in Las Vegas.  Delicious!  ...  Shawna          

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