Pig's Feet and Ginger Stew - Gastro Obscura
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Ritual & Medicinal

Pig's Feet and Ginger Stew

The sweet and sour Cantonese meal restores new mothers after giving birth.

In a Cantonese tradition known as “confinement,” a new mother doesn’t leave her home for one month, spending that time resting and regaining her strength. This period, also known as “the sitting month,” especially emphasizes keeping the mother warm. Few dishes are as warming and reinvigorating as pig’s feet ginger stew.

To begin making the stew, the cook—usually the woman’s mother or mother-in-law—first roasts several pounds of ginger. This is the immunity-boosting core of the dish (its Cantonese name, after all, is geung cho, or “ginger vinegar”). After allowing the ginger and sweet black vinegar to mingle in a pot for several days , she’ll add the pig’s feet, and again set the mixture aside so the flavors can adequately blend. Often, the stew will also feature hard-boiled eggs, a symbol of birth. 

The result is pungent, hearty, and bursting with sweet and sour flavors. After marinating in the vinegar, the meat will be incredibly succulent and tender, with skin sliding off the bone. A new mother will usually have gallons of the soup on hand—helpful not only for fortifying herself, but also for sharing with guests who come to see her new little one.

Need to Know

Many recipes recommend using the Pat Chun brand of sweet black vinegar. If you can't track it down, you might need to supplement your stew with Chinese slab sugar to reach the appropriate level of sweetness.

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