Sweet and hot pig cheeks to celebrate the Year of the Snake

Having fallen in love with beef cheeks I could not wait to try to cook pigs cheeks. With the Chinese New year just around the corner I actually called my butcher, Robson’s Butcher to pre order them. He stocks a large variety of meats but pigs cheeks have to be pre ordered. Apparently most of them are made in to pork mince. They personally went to look for a pigs head in order to get me the cheeks but after looking around at Smithfields, they found no pigs head but someone who sold pigs cheeks. Needless to say I was delighted and grateful!

The Chinese New Year 2o13 is the year of the snake and the celebrations starts on February 13th, lasting for 15 days with each day has it’s own significance. As I am not Chinese I have simply decided to celebrate with them by cooking some Chinese foods! It might not be authentic but definitely inspired by Asian spices and cooking techniques. Tomorrow I will try and cook at least a few dishes but today I cooked the pigs cheeks.

I love to cook new things and in order to be fully prepared I made quite a large and hearty breakfast before heading to the shops. I did need a couple of different ones for all the ingredients.


Sweet and hot cooked pigs cheeks, Chinese style, serves 2 – oven 160C


  • 400 gr pigs cheeks 


  • 1 carrot, cubed 
  • 1 celery stalk, cubed 
  • 1/2 cooking apple, peeled and cubed 
  • 1 small chilli, sliced, seeds in
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped 
  • parsely stalks, bruised and roughly chopped


  • szechwan peppercorns 
  • 2 star anise


  • apple juice, I used Corbella, fresh apple juice as it is not too sweet, enough to cover the meat and veg
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine 
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp mirin 
  • 1 tbsp wine wine vinegar 
  • 1 tsp palm sugar 
  • corn starch

Toast the szechwan peppercorns and star anise in a dry pan, they are ready when the  peppercorn starts to pop and release a wonderful aroma.

Trim the pigs cheeks if necessary, rinse and pat dry. Add the corn starch and shake off any excess. Heat oil in a pan and brown them on all sides, you might want to do this in batches and set aside.


Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and let them brown gently, then add the liquid I used only apple juice as I wanted lots of apple flavour but stock would of course work as well! Once I was happy and had made any adjustment to the flavour I placed the cheeks, veg and liquid in individual pots and let stand in the oven to cook for 2 hours, or until the meat was fall apart tender and delicious.


It was strictly not Chinese but inspired and with clear Chinese undertones.


I added roughly chopped coriander and flat leave parsley to the rice and fluffed it up a little before serving.


The apple and the spices worked very well together creating a great balance between sweet and hot with fall apart tender pork, what an amazing cut! I can’t wait to cook with it again.


This blog was entered to Made with Love Mondays from the always excellent Javelin Warrior!


8 Responses to “Sweet and hot pig cheeks to celebrate the Year of the Snake”
  1. Wow these look delicious! I need to experiment some chinese food in my kitchen. What you have made here is very interesting. I have never had pig cheeks but I’d like to try them.

  2. This has inspired me and I am going to make a trip to my local butcher to try to persuade him to order some pig cheeks! (Since the butcher isn’t always that enthusiastic, I shall have to sweet talk him!)

  3. I’ve never had pig cheeks before, but I love the preparation here with the apples and spices. This sounds so good and what a delicious change from traditional meats. Very creative and thank you so much for sharing!

    • petra08 says:

      hey, I haven’t had them either before but the meat is amazing and super tender! The Asian influence worked really well and will buy the cut again! Glad you like it 🙂

  4. looks delicious! never tried making this before

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