Thang brings us one of the most coveted dishes in Vietnam — Caramelized Pork. This is comfort food Asian style!
As a long-time guide of Grasshopper tours through the Mekong Delta and other parts of the country, he experiences a broad variety of Vietnamese cuisine. So we can trust that when he offers up a recipe as “one of the great dishes of the region”, we are in for a treat!
One of the best parts of traveling as a guide is you can taste all the good food from different parts of the country, and yet, the Mekong delta is absolutely my favorite part — with its friendly people, scenery, fruits, and especially its food.
Among so many great dishes of the region, my favorite is Caramelized Pork. The combination of genuine ingredients, the sweet from caramel, the light spicy flavor from the pepper and chili all make this a favorite dish for guests along tours in the Mekong Delta region.
Vietnamese Caramelized Pork
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ lb [300 g] pork belly or butt (sliced into thin, 2-3 cm strips)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 - 2 red chilies (if you like spicy)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ cup [150 ml] of hot water
Put all the pork into a bowl and add in 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of honey, ½ teaspoon of salt and mix it up, then leave for about 10-15 mins.
I like to put honey on it as it helps to make the meat become more tender when cooking.
Heat a pan to medium heat and add brown sugar. As soon as it melts and turns golden, add 3 tablespoon minced shallots until it smells nice. Then add pork, raise the heat to high and stir until coated. (Sugar will become sticky and may harden, but it will re-melt as it cooks, forming a sauce.) Keep stirring until the fat comes out and the pork turns lightly browned. This normally takes about 3-5 minutes. Then pour hot water in, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste the sauce, adding fish sauce, sugar, or salt to balance out the taste and tune it to your liking. It should be slightly salty to balance out the sweetness. Add in chopped chili according to your heat preference.
After this time, the pork should be caramelized and brownish color. If not, raise the heat and cook 5 more minutes. The leftover sauce should be about 2 tablespoons, then add the pepper and mix it up.
Transfer to the serving bowl and serve with steamed rice. A side of steamed vegetables would make a great combination.
Enjoy this bit of authentic Vietnamese-style cuisine in your own home. From our many Grasshopper team kitchens to yours — have fun and enjoy!