Filipino Pata Tim (Pork Knuckle in Soy Sauce)

We were in a Chinese restaurant here in Colombo, Sri Lanka when one of my friends who?s really into eating pork with fat jokingly ordered ?Pata Tim?, a Filipino dish made of pork hock slowly braised or stewed in soy sauce and sugar until very tender. Of course the waiter will respond they don?t have such a dish. But since this is an authentic Chinese restaurant and having in mind that ?Pata Tim? is probably of Chinese origin, we decided to go over the menu nonetheless and check whether they have anything that will somehow resemble the much-loved Filipino dish. There, we find an entrée called Pork Knuckle in Soya Sauce.

We all thought it could be it and immediately ordered the dish along with some of our favorite Chinese food. When the order was finally served, we were elated. It is the same dish we referred to as ?Pata Tim? back home. It is called by a different name but the same extra tender pork hock in a thick sweet-salty sauce with some vegetables. At that point, we all experienced a homelike feeling; as if we were just in a Manila restaurant. Such short moment of reconnection brings joy to our hearts. And it feels good.

The above experience somehow confirms that ?Pata Tim?, as we know it in the Philippines, could have originally came somewhere in China. And since the dish exists here in Sri Lanka, it could also be available in other Chinese eateries and restaurants scattered all over the world. All Filipinos have to do is to decipher the name it is being called in order to enjoy them.

And if you still cannot find it from your favorite Chinese restaurants in your area, don?t feel bad. There is another way. Cook it by yourself. I?m not kidding. I will show you how. This is a sure hit, another signature dish of this blog.

To cook it is not difficult. It sure may look intimidating but it simpler than most of us thought. You just need the following stewing ingredients: 1 pc star anise, 6 gloves garlic, crushed, 1 pc bay leaf (?laurel?), 2 pcs small onions, peeled and halve, 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, slightly toasted, 1 tsp salt and ½ cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar.

Of course you also need 1 pc pork hock or knuckle (?pata?). Properly cleaned and drained.

The liquid ingredients we need are ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 3 tbsp oyster sauce and 3 cups broth.

In a mixing bowl, place all the liquid ingredients and mix them together. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir to blend.

In a thick pot, place the pork knuckle (?pata?) and pour the soy sauce-sugar mixture. Add in all the other ingredients and heat on medium flame. Once boiling, lower the heat to lowest setting possible but maintain the liquid to a point that it is still gurgling. Simmer until pork is just tender. Flip the pork knuckle over every 30 minutes to assure even cooking. Don?t let the liquid to dry up. If necessary, add hot water 1 cup at a time.

When the meat is just tender, take it out and cut into 3 big parts detaching it from the bones. Return the meat and the bones back into the pot. The cut parts can now be more submerged into the sauce to tenderize it even further. Continue simmering until the pork is very tender, with the skin almost gelatinous.

For the meantime, prepare the vegetables. We need 3 pcs baby bok choy (?petchay?) and 1 pc carrot, peeled and cut to floweret. Steam the vegetables until just cooked and carrot still slightly crunchy.

In a large platter arrange the vegetables along the sides. Carefully place the pork knuckle at the center. Use the bone to prop the meat up. Strain the remaining sauce and discard the remnants of the other ingredients. If the sauce is thick enough you can pour it right away on the meat, otherwise use 1 tsp of corn starch dispersed in 1 tbsp of water to thicken the sauce in low heat. Mine has the right consistency already so use of corn starch is not necessary.

This is really delicious I tell you. Try it and you won?t regret it. I?ll do this more often from now on. Repeat request is already received. c?,)

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