Pig Feet: Bún Bò Hu? from Pho Nhat

Pig feet from Pho Nhat.
Pig feet from Pho Nhat.
Erica O'Neil

Despite what the supermarket aisles may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meats from establishments across the Valley.

This week: Pig Feet, or trotters, served up by Phở Nhất.

The Ick Factor: Just look down at your feet. Go on, it's summer, so you're probably wearing sandals anyway. How scrumptious do those little morsels look?

Foot fetishists aside, feet are kind of grody. And eating them is a combination of all the foreign textural things that make offal meat by and large an unappetizing endeavor. While many people like pork, the problem lies in the fact that very little actual meat is present for consumption. Just like your own trotters or chicken feet (phoenix claws!), pig feet are primarily skin, bone and connective tissue. Mmm, connective tissue...

(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)

Three little piggies all in a row.
Three little piggies all in a row.
Erica O'Neil

The Offal Choice: Bún Bò Huế (No. 32) from Phở Nhất. Basically it's a big old bowl of spicy pho with thick, spaghetti-like noodles, thin-sliced beef, and pig feet. Or pig knuckles. We're not quite sure which. All we know is that there was plenty of piggy pieces afloat in our bowl of pho, which was naturally adorned with all the aromatic fixings (lime, mint, jalapeno, etc).

Tastes Just Like: Trotters most closely resemble a combination between tendon, chicharrones, and chicken feet (minus the chicken flavor). The pho had a definite porky aroma wafting off with the steam that was a little different than the otherwise beef-based broth.

Much like chicken feet, tendon and chicharrones, the flavor of the pig feet was pretty mild. It was lightly porky with a bit of a musky flavor. And just like this offal trio it most resembles, the texture of the pig feet were something just a little left of center. The trotters were spongy and springy in places where there was a mass of pork skin (chicharrones!), gelatinous and soft in areas composed mostly of connective tissue (tendon!) and full of strange little bones (chicken feet!).

So if you can dig on these other offal bits, you'll love pig feet.

You Know It's Cooked Improperly When: It's a pig foot. They make glue of these kind of things, you know. So get down with your pig feet broiled, stewed, fried or jellied.

Always Been a DIY-er? Pig feet are all over the place! Check out Food City, Walmart, and just about any ethnic market for a package of pig feet. Then whip up some tasty Bún Bò Huế.

Know of some offal we have to try? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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