Vietnamese Caramel Pork

This is a recipe that’s very close to my heart, it brings back so man childhood memories. It’s probably my favourite dish of all time… My mom used to cook this caramel pork stew for special occasions and it was always super exciting when she did as we all loved it. My siblings and I would request it for our birthdays. Sadly she doesn’t have time anymore so I’ve learnt to make it myself and can now have it whenever I want! I’m sharing with you this very special recipe that truly embodies what Vietnamese cuisine means to me:  comfort-rich-sweet-sour-salty all at the same time. I’ll warn you beforehand: it tastes and smells a lot like fish sauce! Some people mind but I love that, the fish sauce smell takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Saigon. Serve this stew with some jasmine rice and you’re in for a treat!

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This recipe makes enough stew for 4 to 5 people

Step 1: Make the marinade

You will need:
-600g to 700g of pork shoulder (you can use a leaner cut if you prefer)
-4 small shallots or 2 big ones
-a thumb size chunk of ginger.
-3 to 4 cloves of garlic
-1tsp sugar
-3 tbsp of fish sauce
-1/2 tsp salt
-black pepper
-chilli flakes or fresh chilli (to taste)

Peel your ginger, garlic and shallot and cut them into chunks.
In a pestle and mortar, crush together the garlic, ginger, shallots and chilli. (If you don’t have a pestle and mortar you can just slice the shallot very finely and grate the ginger and garlic.)
Cut your meat into 2-3cm size chunks.
Mix all the marinade ingredients and leave for the flavours to mingle for at least 1hour (best overnight of course).

Step 2: Cook the stew

You will need:
-the marinated meat as well as the marinade
-vegetable oil
-2 to 3 tbsp of caster sugar
-2 tbsp of fish sauce
-1.5 can of coconut milk
-200mL boiling water
-4 hard boiled eggs, shelled

+ jasmine rice to serve

In a heavy bottom saucepan, add 1 to 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and sear the chunks of pork.
Once they have coloured, add the rest of the marinade and cook.
Once the shallots, garlic and ginger are cooked, pour in the coconut milk, fish sauce and boiling water with a good pinch of salt.
While the coconut milk heats up, in another sauce pan, put the sugar on medium heat to turn it into caramel. You want the caramel to go really dark, almost burnt. Once you’ve reached a really dark colour (but not burnt), pour it in the other saucepan, into the coconut milk which should have heated up by then.
Add the hard boiled eggs to the stew.
Ideally, all the chunks of meat and the eggs should be covered, if they’re not add some more boiling water (the stew will reduce anyway). Cover and reduce the heat to low to let the stew simmer for at least one hour and a half.
Depending on how fatty your meat is, you might have more or less fat separating at the top of the stew. Using a spoon, you can scrape some out.
30min before serving, cook some jasmine rice.
Once it’s all ready, remove the eggs and slice them in half or quarters. Serve the stew on rice and top with a few pieces of hard boiled egg.

Ta-da!

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