Braised pork knuckle with fat choy, dried mushrooms, and dried oysters is an auspicious Chinese New Year dish for the Cantonese. The name in Cantonese is 橫財就手, has a symbolic meaning of ‘a windfall of good fortune’.

In just a few days, families worldwide will gather and celebrate the new year with a lavish feast, and there is no exception in our family. I have prepared this dish in advance because it is freezer-friendly.  It is even tastier after a day or two after the pork knuckle has completely absorbed all the flavor from the sauce.

I hope this pork knuckle will bring you good luck and wealth in the coming year.  Let me show you how to prepare this wonderful dish. It is our specialty for the Lunar New Year.

Braised pork knuckles is an auspicious Chinese New Year dish for Cantonese. The name in Cantonese is 橫財就手, has symbolic mining of ‘a windfall of good fortune.

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1. Blanch the pork knuckle 

Blanching the pork knuckle is an effective way to remove the unwanted blood smell. It is an easy but essential step. 

  • Clean the pork knuckle by changing the water several times until it runs clear. 
  • Take a closer look at the skin to spot if there is any hair. You can remove it by using tweezers or burning it away with a blow torch. 
  • Place the pork knuckle in a pot, then fill with water sufficient to submerge it. 
  • Add a few slices of ginger, two stalks of scallions, and two tablespoons of rice wine into the water. These ingredients also help to eliminate any unwanted smell. 
  • Bring the water to a boil. Then blanch the pork knuckle over medium heat for ten minutes. Turn it over at least once for even cooking. 
  • Remove it and wash it under running water. Let it sit for ten minutes to drain the water. 

2. Fry the pork knuckle 

While blanching the pork knuckle helps removes the unwanted smell, frying it before braising develops additional flavor. It is usually deep-fried in the restaurant because it is an efficient method. However, deep-frying is not a practical method for home cooks. Therefore, I have changed it to shallow fry with less oil instead. 

  • Rub a large tablespoon of dark soy sauce on the pork knuckle evenly. Dark soy sauce not only adds color to it, but the sugar in the sauce is also caramelized while deep-frying, creating some attractive charred marks. Let it rest for ten minutes to drip off the excess soy sauce. 
  • Heat about half an inch deep of oil in a large pan or wok. Place the pork into the oil. You will expect the oil splutter since the pork knuckle is wet. So get ready a lid and cover it immediately after placing it in the pan. 
  • Shallow fry it for two minutes on each side or until it starts to form some charred marks. 
  • Remove the pork knuckle from the oil. 

3. Rehydrate the dried ingredients 

There are three dried ingredients for this dish: dried shiitake mushrooms, dried oysters, and black moss. 

Dried shiitake mushrooms are packed with flavor. Rehydrate them by either soaking with water for half a day (or overnight). You can use hot water to reduce the soaking time to about two hours. Once they are soft, squeeze out the water and cut off the stem with a pair of kitchen scissors. You can include the mushroom stems if you are eating with your family or discard them if you are serving your guests. 

Dried oysters are equally packed with umami like dried mushrooms. Soak them with water for 15 to 30 minutes or until they are soft. Clean each oyster with water to remove any sand and dirt. 

Black moss (fat choy, 发菜) is an edible alga related to spirulina that resembles long strands of silky, luscious hair. It will rehydrate after soaking for ten to twenty minutes. Clean it carefully with water and is ready to use

Are dried foods safe to eat? 

There are some concerns about the safety of the mushroom water and black moss.  Below is the information I have read.

The mushroom water. Some readers are concerned about the safety of consuming the water after soaking the mushrooms. A small amount of sulfites is added to it as a bleaching agent and preservatives, transforming into sulfur dioxide during processing. Excessive amounts of sulfur dioxide may cause dyspnoea, vomiting, and diarrhea, especially in asthmatic or allergic individuals.

Since the water after soaking the mushrooms has lots of flavors, I have decided to add it to the braising liquid. I believe our liver should have the ability to metabolize that trace amount and should not be hazardous to our health as long as it is not in a large amount. Anyway, you can read this article before deciding whether you want to use it.

Black moss. According to a Chinese University of Hong Kong’s study, black moss contains an amino acid beta-Methylamino-L-alanine (BMMA), which may affect normal nerve function.  However, this article also implies that it is Ok to consume in small quantities.

Black moss is an expensive item and is rarely consumed regularly except during the Chinese New Year. I think it should be fine as long as it is not in an excessive amount.

Disclaimer: I am a pharmacist but have not researched in great detail in this matter. Hence, this is only for your reference, not a piece of health advice.

Braised pork knuckles is an auspicious Chinese New Year dish for Cantonese. The name in Cantonese is 橫財就手, has symbolic mining of ‘a windfall of good fortune.

4. Braise the pork knuckle 

Now we are ready to braise the pork knuckle. Here are the steps :

  • Heat some oil in a wok or a large pan. 
  • Saute the scallions, sliced ginger, and garlic cloves over medium heat until aromatic. 
  • Add the dry spices (bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and star anise) and give them a quick stir. 
  • Place the pork knuckle into the wok.
  • Add sufficient water enough to submerge half of the pork knuckle. 
  • Add the rock sugar and the liquid seasonings (chu hou sauce 柱侯醬, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, red fermented bean curd (lam yu), and rice wine).
  • Bring it to a boil over high heat, then return to simmering temperature to braise it for two hours. Turn over it every half an hour to ensure even cooking. 
  • Add boiling water whenever the water level drops below the midline of the pork knuckle.

Note: You can use Hoisin sauce to replace chu hou sauce and regular sugar for rock sugar. 

5. Add the dried mushrooms and dried oysters 

Since the dried mushrooms and oysters take less time to cook than the pork, they should be added to the wok after braising the pork for two hours. 

  • After two hours, add the dried mushrooms and dried oysters. Also, include the mushroom stock (i.e., the water after soaking the mushrooms) to the wok. 
  • You may need to fill the wok with more water if the level is lower than half of the pork knuckle. I suggest adding boiling water to keep it at a constant boil. 
  • Continue braising for another one hour. Check the doneness of the meat by piercing a chopstick into the thickest part of the pork knuckle. The meat should be soft and tender if it can be pierced with minimal resistance.
  • Now add the back moss into the liquid, bit by bit, and cook for another ten minutes before turning off the heat. 

6. Reduce the braising liquid to a thick sauce 

  • Remove the pork knuckle, mushrooms, black moss, and oysters from the wok. Keep them aside in separate bowls.
  • Pour the braising liquid through a wire mesh strainer to get a clean broth.
  • Now return the broth to a clean pan. Bring it to a boil and reduce the amount if it is too much for preparing the sauce.
  • Season it with salt.
  • Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water to form a cornstarch slurry. 
  • Add the slurry to the sauce slowly until it is sufficient to thicken it until it can coat a metal spoon or wok spatula. You may not need to use up all the slurry or need more, depending on the amount of sauce.

To serve

  • Place the pork knuckle on a large oval plate.
  • Arrange the mushrooms, oysters, and black moss around it, then drizzle the sauce onto the pork knuckle.
  • Garnish with some lettuce and scallions.

Other related recipes

Braised pork knuckle with black moss and dried mushrooms symbolize wealth and prosperity, a dish best to serve on the first or second day of Chinese New Year.

However, it is seldom served as a daily meal as these are expensive ingredients. Here are two similar but less complicated recipes that should fit into your regular dinner rotation.

Braised chicken with mushrooms. Quick, easy, and delicious. That is how my family described this recipe.  It is a freezer-friendly recipe and is a typical Cantonese home cook dish.

Chinese spareribs. A simplified version of this pork knuckle recipe, prepared with a similar set of herbs and spices. It’s the perfect choice if you want to try some different herbs from your regular rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and olive oil. 

Yield: 5 servings

Pork knuckle 橫財就手 - How to prepare (to celebrate Chinese New Year)

pork knuckle thumbnail

Braised pork knuckle is an auspicious Chinese New Year dish for Cantonese. The name in Cantonese is 橫財就手, has symbolic mining of ‘a windfall of good fortune.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

Ingredients A (blanch and fry the pork knuckle)

  • 1 pork knuckle
  • 5 slices ginger
  • 2 stalks scallions, cut into 3-inch sections
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Ingredients B (aromatics)

  • 5 slices ginger
  • 2 stalks scallions
  • 5 cloves garlic

Ingredients C (dry spices)

Ingredients D (seasonings)

Ingredients E

Ingredients F

  • 1 Chinese lettuce
  • Sufficient oil to fry
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (plus 2 tbsp water to form a slurry)
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

Blanch and fry the pork knuckle 

  1. Clean the pork knuckle by changing the water several times until it runs clear. 
  2. Place ingredients A in a pot, fill with water sufficient to submerge it. 
  3. Blanch the pork knuckle over medium heat for ten minutes. Turn it over at least once.
  4. Remove, wash and drain.
  5. Rub a large tablespoon of dark soy sauce on the pork knuckle evenly. Let it rest for ten minutes to drip off the excess soy sauce. 
  6. Heat about half an inch deep of oil in a large pan or wok. Fry the pork into the oil until it starts to form some charred marks. Remove.

Rehydrate the dried ingredients 

  1. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in water for half a day or until soft.
  2. Remove the stem and keep the soaking water.
  3. Soak the dry oyster for 15 to 30 minutes and clean them well as they may have some sand.
  4. Soak the black moss for twenty minutes, drain.

Braise the pork knuckle 

  1. Saute ingredients B over medium heat until aromatic. 
  2. Add ingredients C.
  3. Place the pork knuckle into the wok, then add sufficient water to submerge half of the pork knuckle. 
  4. Add ingredients D, then braise it for two hours over low heat.
  5. After two hours, add the dried mushrooms and dried oysters. Also, include the mushroom water. Continue braising for another one hour. 
  6. Now add the back moss into the liquid, bit by bit, and cook for another ten minutes before turning off the heat. 

Reduce the braising liquid to a thick sauce 

  1. Remove all the ingredients in the braising liquid. Pour it through a wire mesh strainer to get a clean broth.
  2. Bring it to a boil ad season it with salt.
  3. Thicken the sauce with cornstarch slurry. 
  4. Place the pork knuckle, mushrooms, oysters, and black moss on a serving plate. Drizzle the sauce on the pork knuckle.
  5. Garnish with scallions and lettuce.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 349Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 1464mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 16g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 2/10/2021

    9 replies to "Pork knuckle 橫財就手 – to celebrate Chinese New Year"

    • KP Kwan

      Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am pleased to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.

    • Matej @ CookWeWill

      I’m a big fan of pork knuckle! My favorite way of making it, is pre-cooking first, then roasting in the oven on a base of onions and beer. Your recipe is way more advanced than that and I’m really tempted to try it… the problem is, I’ve never seen dried oysters being sold locally, is there a way to substitute this ingredient with something else?

      • KP Kwan

        There is no substitute for the dried oyster and black moss, and the taste is significantly different from the fresh one. I suggest you can try some Asian grocery stores or Chinese herbal medicine stores. If there is none, omit them and only use the dried mushrooms, which are easier to get.

        • Matej @ CookWeWill

          Ok, I was able to get black moss, just the dried oysters are missing… that looks like a way bigger problem to buy them locally. But I won’t give up 🙂

          • KP Kwan

            I hope you can get it, but without the dried oyster, it is still mouthwatering.

            • phangmoiching

              Great recipe

            • KP Kwan

              Thank you 🙂

    • Regina

      Hi KP Kwan,

      Happy Chinese New Year! I love all your yummy recipes. Is the free cookbook on this page yours? This braised pork knuckles looks so delicious. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you!

      • KP Kwan

        The cookbook is a collection of ten recipes that I wrote some time ago.

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