Versatility of pork knuckles on show

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 - Page 3

People interested in the history of Taiwanese braised pork knuckles may find it enlightening to visit an exhibition at Taipei Main Station that opened yesterday.

The exhibition forms part of the Taiwan International Pork Knuckle Festival, and visitors can learn about the history of eating and cooking pork knuckles, different recipes for pork knuckle as well as Taiwanese proverbs relating to pork knuckles.

The exhibition offers guided tours in English and in Chinese and is scheduled to end on Saturday.

Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) was one of the dignitaries invited to attend the opening ceremony. He said that Taiwanese braised pork knuckles is a very special dish for the national cuisine.

“People may think that pork knuckles might be too greasy, but they can be cooked in ways that make them delicious to eat,” Chen said, adding that the dish is also rich in collagen.

Chen hails from Chaojhou Township (潮州) in Pingtung County, which is right next to Wanluan Township (萬巒) a place renowned for its braised pork knuckles.

Chen added that there would be a culinary competition in Pingtung County on Oct. 1, in which chefs from Europe and Southeast Asian countries are set to create dishes using fresh pork knuckles.

“We hope that the competition will help promote the use of pork knuckles in international markets, especially those countries with large Chinese communities” he said.

“We hope that braised pork knuckle dishes can become famous around the world, just like South Korea’s kimchi or miso soup from Japan,” he said.

Statistics from the council show that the annual output value of the nation’s hog farming industry is about NT$65 billion (US$2.17 billion).

The Taiwan Agriculture and Fisheries Logistics Association, which organized the festival, said that many Taiwanese eat dishes featuring pork knuckle on a variety of different occasions.

Some people eat noodles with braised pork knuckles when trying to get rid of bad luck. The same dish can also be served on birthdays, as a way of wishing for good luck and longevity, it said.

According to the association, Chinese and German cuisine are best known for dishes using pork knuckles. While many Chinese prefer to braise the knuckles to make the skin and meat soft and chewy, German dishes often include baking the knuckles until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender.

Some women in South Korea and Hong Kong are also said to eat pork knuckles after giving birth to restore their energy levels, it said.