Gio Thu (Head Cheese or Brawn)

  • 2 pig's ears
  • 2 pig's tongues 
  • 1 snout
  • 2 ham hocks (bones discarded)
  • 2½ tbs fish sauce
  • 1 ts sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 tbs coarsely cracked peppercorns
  • 1 cup black fungus (whole woodear mushrooms) soaked for about 1/2 hr and drained
  • cooking oil
  • 2-3 empty medium sized round tin cans, cardboard cans and plastic sandwich bags or cling wrap. An alternative is a potted meats press. 
  1. Clean the ears, tongue, snout and ham hocks with a small scrubbing brush under running water. Remove any hair by shaving, plucking or singing with a kitchen blow-lamp. Add the cleaned meats to a large pot of water and boil for 45 minutes or until the pig ears have softened. You can test this by piercing the ear with a toothpick.  Drain the cooked meats and soak in a cold water bath until cool.
  2. If the tongue has developed a white fur then remove this with knife or peeler. Slice the pig ears, snout and ears into thin strips of 5mm width (1/4 in). Remove the bone from the ham hocks and slice the meat similarly. Discard any hairy meat that can't be removed.
  3. In a  wok , heat approximately 50 ml (~3 Tbsp) of cooking oil and add the shallots and garlic. Saute until they become aromatic and then add the sliced meats.  Add the cracked peppercorns, sugar, and fish sauce and fungus. Continue to saute and stir and you will notice the liquid becomes sticky after about 10 minutes.
  4. Prepare the potting containers by lining the cans with plastic bags or cling type film. Fill the containers to capacity and pack the contents tightly a little proud of the rims.Seal the bags/ cling film and weight it on top.  Refrigerate overnight.