So, I had a semi-crazy idea pop in my head Friday night that I wanted to try to make my own version of Vietnamese head cheese called, “giò thủ”. The original version is usually made with pig ears, various bits of pork (belly, cheek, shoulder), fish sauce, wood ear mushroom, shallots, garlic, whole or cracked black pepper and gelatin.
My version would start with four medium pig ears and ten pig snout (just the oink part) combined with one whole shallot, eight garlic cloves, two small bay leaves, two tablespoons of whole black peppers, a tablespoon of cracked grains of paradise, two celery stalks and half of a carrot. I also threw in a couple of tablespoons of kosher salt (ironic, no?), two whole Thai bird chilis and enough filtered water to cover everything by about 5cm. I brought everything up to a boil in a large stockpot and reduced it to a simmer for 3 hours.
After simmering all of the ingredients, I picked out all of the porky bits and let it rest until the bits cooled to about room temperature. As for the stock, I strained the stock into a large container, let it too cool to room temperature and placed it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Once the snots and ears cooled, I sliced the pig ears into about 5cm by 4mm pieces; while, cubing the snots into 1cm by 1cm pieces. Both went into the refrigerator along with the stock.
In the meantime, I snagged two pieces of pork sparerib tips, cut them up and boiled them in a concoction that isn’t too different from the others. For these, I added a 60ml of brown rice vinegar, one Thai bird chili, a pinch of dried red pepper flakes, one large bay leaf and enough water to cover everything. I let it come up to a boil, lowered the temperature and let it simmer for 1.5 hours. I plucked out the meat, which should be quite tender, and strained the stock. When the meat cooled to room temperature, I shredded the meat with a fork, while throwing away any chunks of fat and cartilage. The meat and the cooled stock also went into the refrigerator.
After 24 hours, both stocks should be at the point of being like firm fruit gelatin. About an hour before starting putting everything together, I took everything out and let it come up to room temperature. Also, I soaked two large handfuls of the dried wood ear mushrooms and soaked it in hot water; changing out the water after about 15 minutes, for a total soak time of 30 minutes. Then, I completely drain the rehydrated mushrooms and roughly chop them. I then combined both stocks (4 parts of the stock from the ear and snout and 1 part of the sparerib stock) into a medium saucepan and continually stirred it until the stock just turns back into a liquid..
In a standard glass bread loaf pan and a 1.25L square glass container, I combined a small amount of each of the pork meat into a small layer, then add a little bit of the mushroom. Repeated with another layer and I lightly packed of the layers down. Once all of the meat and mushrooms had been layered, I ladled the stock over the meat just until it covered the meat. I let it sit for a couple of minutes until most of the air bubbles worked themselves out and added a touch of stock to each.
I left the containers cool to room temperature before covering them and putting them into the refrigerator. I checked both this morning and both have gelled up quite well. The proof will be in the pudding when I taste them when I get home tonight.