By: Culinary Frank
Description: If phở is known for the title 'Vietnamese National Dish', then Braised Pork Belly would be the 'Vietnamese Most Traditional Dish'. It is so popular that not only do we prepare this for Lunar New Year, but it has also become a staple dish in every Vietnamese family’s daily meal.
Time to prepare the recipe: 5 minutes
Time to cook: 120 minutes
Duration: 125 minutes
Ingredients: Pork belly,
As time drawing to the end of the year, my nostalgia for home became deeper.
I missed the moment when the air started to turn chilly, when I again could breathe slowly as school’s first semester had just finished, and when my family gathered around our kitchen to help mum prepare heartwarming meals (but mostly just to enjoy her decent culinary skill). Hence, the only solution I could think of to cure such aching hunger was to cook a very homey dish and share with you.
If phở is known for the title “Vietnamese National Dish”, then Braised Pork Belly would be the “Vietnamese Most Traditional Dish”. It is so popular that not only do we prepare this for Lunar New Year, but it has also become a staple dish in every Vietnamese family’s daily meal.
As the name could give you some hint about this beautiful dish, pork belly is the main component. It will be marinated, seared in caramel sauce and then slowly braised in coconut water till the meat is nice and moist, tender yet still holds its shape. To add another layer of goodness, boiled eggs are the other important element in this heavenly combination, and will be served together with the meat and pickled mustard greens to balance out the richness.
When I was a child, this would be my favourite dish. My mum would play “Guess What We Have For Dinner” game with me almost every day when I came home from school. I did not always give her the correct answer, but when it came to be braised pork belly, I would always get it right. I still remember how joyful I was, I would scream out loud “YES!!!” and jump up and down. At the dinner table, I would go for the meat and the egg yolk, then get scolded by my mom for not eating enough greens (well, who would prefer to eat greens as a kid? Not me haha). But as I got older, I then grew to appreciate more of the pickled mustard greens; the crunchiness from them gives the dish more texture, while the sweet and sour flavour helps to bring out another captivating facet of this recipe.
What I will share with you today is based on this traditional way of cooking braised pork belly, but with a personal touch to it. Instead of cutting the pork belly to chunky pieces like how it would be done traditionally, I will keep it rather whole (around 10cm long and 5cm wide), so after 2 hours of “tender loving care”, it becomes even moister and “melt in your mouth”. I then make a mixture of crushed peanut and sesame seed, sprinkle all over the pork, to create a crunch in every bite and that nutty flavour rounds up everything perfectly. Mustard greens are difficult to find in Mackay, therefore I decided to use radishes instead. And oh boy, I was blown away by how it went so well with the pork. As with mustard greens, radishes also have quite a punch to its flavour. By pickling it, you can ease out that tanginess and it will also give you a beautiful colour to this dish (besides it is so easy and quick to make.)
I am gonna stop writing now, sleeves up and roll to the kitchen!!!
I hope after this I could give you another perspective on Vietnamese cuisine and enjoy this recipe.
Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly
|Prep time||Cook time|
|5 mins||2 hours|
Allow meat to marinate for at least 30 mins:
|Pork belly||500 gm|
|Fish sauce||5 tablespoons|
|Oil (any type)||1 tablespoon|
|Freshly ground pepper||to taste (I personally am
very generous with this
since pepper goes really well
|Coconut water||660 ml|
Peanut and sesame seed mixture:
|Roasted peanut||50 gm|
|Toasted sesame||50 gm|
1. Slice the pork into strips ( 10cm long, 5cm wide). Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl then pour over the pork strips. Set aside. Allow being marinated for at least 30 mins.
2. In a heavy bottom pan, combine sugar and water to make the caramel sauce. Medium-high heat, allow the sugar to melt, stir occasionally. When the mixture turns into golden brown colour, add your marinated pork and start searing each side until the pork is nicely coated with the caramel.
3. Transfer the pork to a pot or a clay pot (which I used), add the coconut water, and some chillies for the heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer. Braise the pork for 2 hours. Add in more fish sauce if needed (but be careful, not to add too much, since the braising liquid will reduce, hence the flavour will be more concentrated). In the last 15 mins add in some boiled eggs, so the egg can soak up some of the braising flavours.
4. For the peanut and sesame mixture, you can use a mortar and pestle to grind everything together ( not too fine, since you will want to have a bit of chunkiness). If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you can use your knife to crush it.
5.When the pork is done, you can slice it thin with your knife and feel how tender it has become. Serve up with your boiled egg, sprinkle the peanut sesame mixture on top, add some pickled radishes to your bowl ( I will post a recipe for my version of pickled radishes soon ), spoon that sweet-salty sensational braising liquid over everything and then garnish with some thinly sliced spring onion.
6. Enjoy !!!