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Porky-pedia

  

 

Porky-pedia

Everything you ever wanted to know about pork… and more! Pork is a rich source of protein and other nutrients, including iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12. Its subtle yet sweet tastes and its versatility make it a favourite in Chinese, German, British and American cuisines, just to name a few. 

In addition to the above, Chinese medicine has always advised eating pork to strengthen the Yin (for moisturising effects), as well as to help replenish and fortify blood and ‘chi’ (internal energy). It is also generally held that pork can help increase the efficiency of antipyretic (anti-fever) drugs and reduce constipation. 

Each cut or section of the pig has its own unique tastes, textures and benefits:

 

Secret
01
BLOOD

BLOOD

Though not commonly eaten by many Westerners due to ancient Judaeo-Christian views against consuming any kind of blood, it is still found in many European cuisines; in the UK as black pudding (blood sausage), in Scandinavia as blood pancakes and in Germany as schwarzsauer. In Chinese cooking, one is most likely to find it as blood taufu, and is used mostly in soups. In Taiwan, a delicacy called Pig’s Blood Cake is often sold on the streets.

Pig’s blood contains all 8 essential amino acids that the body cannot make by itself, and a variety of vitamins. Obviously, it is also a rich source of iron to help prevent anaemia. The lecithin in the blood helps increase production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, so it is also brain food.

Secret
02
BRAIN

BRAIN

Pork brains are a popular American South food, and is usually found in cans as “pork brains in milk gravy” or scrambled with eggs. In Chinese cuisine, pig brains are often deep-fried, or in Szechuan cooking, in a hot pot.

Brains are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is required in developing children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. Brains are truly brain food, and in fact a new drug (Cerebrolysin) that may help treat dementia has been made from pig brain proteins. Because brains are very high in cholesterol, caution is advised. Pork brains do not seem to contribute to CJD or “mad cow disease”, so one may freely eat this delicious and memory-improving food.

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03
HEART

HEART

Pig’s heart is considered a ‘variety meat’ (organs) and in Western cuisines can be found grilled, stewed or pan-fried. In Chinese cuisine, the pig’s heart is used along with other variety meats as well as in soups and stir-fry dishes.

Heart meat is actually quite lean and good for the health. Outside of food, pig’s heart valves have been harvested and used as replacement heart valves in humans. Chinese medicine views pig’s heart as being good for the treatment of palpitations, heartbeat irregularities, palpitations and night terrors. It can be high in cholesterol, so caution is indicated.

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04
KIDNEYS

KIDNEYS

Pork kidneys, if not cleaned and prepared correctly, can be quite pungent due to the hints of urine in them. This is why Western cuisines usually emphasise the use of stronger spices and flavours to cook them, as in steak and kidney pie, or kidneys on toast. Asian cuisines are not very different, kidneys are usually stir-fried in sesame oil, wine, ginger, onion or chillies. Kidneys should be as fresh as possible and thoroughly soaked and cleaned, but do not need to be cooked for too long.

Kidneys are rich in potassium, folate, Vitamins A, B12 and D, and following the same Chinese medical principle that you eat organs to benefit the same organs in your own body, are good for several kidney-related diseases.

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05
LIVER

LIVER

Part of what is known as ‘variety meats’, pork liver is a staple component of Malaysian Chinese cuisine, as found (amongst other variety meats) in ‘mixed pork’ noodles or porridge, Yee Mee, or stir-fried and in soups. German cuisine also heavily features liver in their sausages (liverwurst and braunschweiger), whereas French cuisine uses pork liver in pâté.

Pork liver is rich in antioxidants (which help prevent cancer), Vitamin A and iron, which is why it is also good for your eyesight and immune system. It is also rich in Vitamin B12, which is essential for a healthy nervous system.

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06
PIG'S INTESTINES

PIG'S INTESTINES

Pig’s intestines are a big deal in the American South, especially in New Orleans where they are boiled, stewed and then fried into a dish called chitlins (from chitterlings, the general name for pig’s intestines). They are also used to make sausage casings in various cuisines, and in Chinese cuisine, is usually the main ingredient in black pepper soup, or prepared by deep-frying or braising.

Pig’s intestines are a significant component in the production of the drug heparin, a blood thinner. This function of encouraging healthy blood flow can be seen in its use to treat appropriate colorectal lesions, such as haemorrhoids and anal prolapse. They are also diuretic, so are suitable if you need to urinate more frequently.

Secret
07
PIG'S TAIL

PIG'S TAIL

Often treated as a specialty cut and not commonly consumed, the deep-fried or roasted pig’s tail is becoming more popular in the West due to its blast of flavour and combination of both meat and fat. They have always been featured in Caribbean and Jamaican cuisines, and in Chinese cuisine, they are mostly braised or turned into soup.

Pig’s tails are full of collagen, which helps with scarring and other skin conditions. With the tailbone included, it is also suitable for the alleviation of lower-back pain and osteoporosis. In the young, it helps promote bone development.

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08
PIG'S TROTTERS

PIG'S TROTTERS

Also known as pig feet, this is a very popular ingredient and is often a main dish or even the highlight of a Chinese banquet. Pig’s trotters are often braised in soya sauce and/or vinegar. Not only is the trotter very meaty, but it also has a good proportion of fat, tendon, skin and cartilage.

Pig’s trotters are acclaimed for their anti-aging properties, due to the amount of collagen in them. Also, they are often used by Cantonese as confinement food for blood replenishment as well as to improve the quality/quantity of breast milk.

Secret
09
PORK BELLY

PORK BELLY

Also known as 3-layer pork, the pork belly is easily one of the most delicious cuts of the pig, due to its mix of both meat, skin and fat, all of which contribute to its rich texture. Roasted pork bellies feature in both Eastern and Western cuisines; in both styles, the belly is roasted until the skin sizzles and crackles. This dish additionally features the use of 5-spice powder in Chinese cuisine (siew yoke). Pork belly is also cooked in the Tung Po and Hung Shao styles.

Secret
10
PORK BONE

PORK BONE

Also known as the pig’s carcass, pork bones are what is leftover of the pig after the other cuts and parts have been made and removed. As a result, they can be a remarkably cheap cut; yet pork bones usually retain a bit of meat (depending on how the butcher made the other cuts), and is often used to make rich soup stock or into a broth.

Pork bones are rich sources of glucosamine and chondroitin (found in the cartilage), collagen, bone marrow and other minerals including iron, calcium and magnesium. As a result, they can help with conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.

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11
PORK SKIN

PORK SKIN

Also known as pork rind or crackling, pork skin is a popular as a snack in the West when deep-fried or pickled, and as an ingredient in sausages. In Chinese cuisine, pork skin can be turned into a dessert and is also used as an ingredient in various noodle (e.g. curry noodle) dishes. Pork skin can also be found amongst other ‘variety meats’ in dishes that feature them.

Pork skin is low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats and oils, as well as proteins. As it is high in collagen, it is traditionally used in beauty and anti-aging therapies, and to bring a lower level of Yin back into balance.

Secret
12
SPARE RIBS

SPARE RIBS

A favourite ingredient in bak kut teh (literally “meat bone tea”), spare ribs are also stir-fried in a variety of marinades, including Marmite, sweet-and-sour, as well as Guiness Stout. American cuisine also features chargrilled or barbequed whole rack of pork ribs. The smooth and fatty texture of this cut makes it very tasty and popular.

Spare ribs are a rich source of calcium, collagen, and bone mucin, especially for the young and the elderly.

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