Pig's Trotter Soup (Ashitibichi)

  • 1.6-1.8kg (3.5-4 lbs) pig's feet, whole or sliced lengthwise
  • 2 large pieces of ginger, scrubbed and sliced lengthwise (No need to skin the ginger)
  • 2-3 strips of dried kombu strips, soaked and knotted (see Preparation of Kombu following)
  • 2-3 Tbsp awamori or sake
  • 1 medium daikon, peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch thick slices
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch thick slices
  • 8-10 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated
  • 1 packet dashi nomoto, dried powdered fish stock
  • 1-2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • Water


Kombu (kelp)Preparation
  1. The type of kombu needed for this dish is the long dried strips which may be labelled "nishime kombu," "hayani kombu" or "ma kombu" 
  2. First, soak the dried kombu in cold water, using a container large enough that you don't have to bend the dried strips — bending the strips can cause them to snap and cut your kombu before you can knot it. Soak for 30-40 minutes, or until the strips become pliable. Don't soak for longer than 2 hours, it will become unworkable.
  3. Reserve 2 cups of the soaking water
  4. Knot each strip of kombu 4-5 times, depending on the length of the vegetable. If you leave about 5 inches, or one fist-length between the knots, you will leave just enough room to cut between them and leave an adequate "lead" on either side of the knot. The kombu will continue to expand as it cooks and if you cut too close to the knot, it will unravel as it cooks and become unattractive for presentation. Leave a lead on both sides of the knot.

  1. Place meat and ginger in large 6 L (6 qt), or larger crockpot. Add enough water to cover the contents by 5 cm (2 in) 
  2. Place on high heat for 2 hours. Skim top of broth to remove impurities as they rise to surface. 
  3. After 2 hours, lower the heat and simmer for 5 hours for sliced feet, 6-7 hours for whole trotters. Meat should be tender and move around the joints easily. 
  4. Separate the meat into another container. 
  5. Strain broth and discard the ginger. Cool completely and store both containers overnight refrigerated. 

Continuing the soup preparation :

  1. Prepare the kombu.
  2. For health aspects, remove the fat layer from broth. Easily removed if cold as a solid layer of fat. You may like to strain this through muslin cloth to remove any particles of fat floating in the broth. This won't remove the essential flavour held in the fat as there is still plenty left within the meat.
  3. Place broth into a large pot and bring to hard boil over high heat. 
  4. Add reserved kombu water and return to boil. 
  5. Add kombu knots, awamori or sake, and daikon, and bring to boil. Once broth is bubbling, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. 
  6. Add cooked meat, carrots, rehydrated shiitake, dashi packet, salt and soy sauce. Continue simmering for another 30-45 minutes.
  7. Test kombu knots: if a pointed chopstick easily pierces the centre of the knots, the soup is ready. If kombu is not ready, remove carrots and daikon if you don't want these vegetables to get too mushy, and continue simmering additional 20-30 minutes. 
  8. Different brands and grades of kombu will cook at different rates, so cooking times will vary, and are dictated by the desired consistency. Consistency of the cooked kombu is also a matter of personal preference — texture can range from slightly firm (al dente) to meltingly tender. 

Serve in individual bowls, with a separate bowl of rice, pickles, and a dipping dish of grated ginger, hot mustard or wasabi.