Pig stomach is my favourite offal. I first had it in an assorted meat ho fun at Wong Kei and from that moment I was hooked. I'd always liked the texture of tripe and here you kept that lovely bite and gained a lovely sweet pork taste too - it reminded me of pig flavoured squid. I think I first mentioned it on here talking about the Malaysian dish of pepper stomach soup, a wonderful and extremely peppery broth containing the organ and there - as well as raving about the dish - I said 'I doubt I'd try it at home, mainly because I find stomach something I like to eat but don't particularly like to handle'.
Well I must have grown less squeamish because after seeing frozen pig's maw in the Chinese supermarket many a time over the years I got an urge to cook some. Initial thought were for said pepper stomach soup - and initially was going to make that along with this dish before realising my maw was too small - but couldn't resist this recipe I'd seen in a Malaysian pork belly (yes, it's nothing but pork belly recipes) cook book.
I'm glad I did because it was lovely. There was texture by the bucket load, with slimy shittaki, gelatinous belly and the slight chew of the stomach all battling it out. I'd not noticed the large volume of pepper in the recipe prior to cooking but it ended up sharing a lot of the pepper warmth that the aforementioned soup does. White pepper definitely has an affinity with the stomach, it probably helps masks some of the offalliness too, something I don't really notice in the taste but something that was apparent in the kitchen odour after two hours of simmering.
Some of the websites I found that talked about cleaning the pig stomach sounded like horror stories, talking of foul smells and awful slime requiring multiple scrubs with salt and vinegar along with a bit of knife scraping. Based on this it was with some trepidation I opened the packaging and was relieved to find it was pretty odour free. Once I had it laid out in it's veiny pink glory though I couldn't help but feel I'd stumbled upon some kind of giant's testicle tanning experiment, preparing the soft skin for a range of boutique handbags. The five minute boil that set it's shape didn't help me get these scrotum-based thoughts from my head either.
One can't let such things get in the way of a tasty meal though so - especially if you like tripe or intestines - I'd recommend this recipe and the stomach in general, after my initial reservations it's a really user-friendly bit of offal with a nice meaty taste and pleasant texture. I'm determined to give some more recipes with it a go so the pepper stomach soup will follow at some point and I'm really keen to head to Mexico too with pig stomach carnitas, spiced and braised in lard till tender before being wrapped in soft tortillas.
Pork Belly with Pig Stomach and Chinese Mushroom, serves 4 with other dishes
400gr pork belly, with skin (obviously)
300gr pig stomach/maw (cleaned and cooked, see note below)
5 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked
1/2 ts white peppercorns, crushed
5 slices of ginger
200ml chicken stock
2 ts light soy
1 ts dark soy
150ml Shaoxing rice wine
This is a really easy recipe.
Dice the pork belly and then blanch in boiling water, drain and discard the water.
Slice the mushrooms into big slices - halved will do unless they're really big - and cut the stomach into bite size pieces.
Place everything except the rice wine into a saucepan, bring to the boil then turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 35-45 minutes. If it really dries out then top up with a little water but it shouldn't be swimming in liquid.
Add the Shaoxing rice wine then simmer, uncovered for maybe 15 minutes till the sauce has reduced and thickened a bit and the alcohol has boiled off.
Cleaning a Pork Stomach
Assuming the stomach is frozen you'll need to defrost.
Remove and give a good wash under a running tap.
Cover well with salt (I used a couple of handfuls) then place into a bowl and give it a good rub for a few minutes, grinding the salt into the stomach lining. Leave for half an hour.
After this the stomach should have exuded lots of nasty red slime. Remove the stomach and discard this liquid then give the stomach a good wash until the water runs clear.
Boil for 5 minutes until firm.
If there is any visible fat trim it off and then bring to the boil in fresh water. Simmer for 2 hours - 2 hours 15 if you're going to be stir frying and not braising the stomach - and it's ready for the recipe.