1kg (2.2 pounds) pork belly, boneless
1/2 cup white sugar
3 spring onions, white part only
1/4 cup fish sauce
350ml (11 fl.oz) can coconut water, unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 small red Birdseye chilli, whole
pinch of salt
3 large carrots, peeled
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
Sweet, salty and sticky, Vietnamese caramel pork is a taste sensation and only needs a handful of ingredients. Buy your pork belly from a good butcher and ask for minimal fat, if possible.
Pairs well with …..
Steamed rice, mint leaves and pickled carrot
Hints and tips:
Serve on a baguette instead of steamed rice.
Cut pork (with skin on) into 2cm x 4cm pieces (½ x 1 ½ inch).
Trim the ends of the spring onion and, leaving whole, bash with the blunt edge of a knife.
Place sugar in a large saucepan, drizzle a little water around edges and heat on medium until sugar melts, bubbles and starts to turn golden amber. This may take 8 – 10 minutes. Don’t stir the caramel with a spoon, rather swirl the saucepan to disperse the melting sugar as it turns golden. Be careful not to let it burn.
Once the caramel is a deep golden colour, add the pork, and stir to coat with the caramel. If the caramel starts to solidify slightly, use a wooden spoon to push it down into the simmering liquid, it will melt gain.
Add the coconut water and bring to the boil. Skim any impurities that rise to the surface and add the spring onion, pepper, fish sauce and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to a simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, uncovered.
The liquid will reduce down until the pork is very tender and the sauce is sticky and dark. If the pork is not dark and sticky, it just needs a little more cooking time. It will get there.
Add the chilli, whole, in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
For the carrot: Add the salt and sugar to the warm water, stir until dissolved and add the vinegar. Shred the carrot on a mandolin or slice into julienne (matchstick) pieces. Add the carrot to the water and vinegar mixture and refrigerate for a few hours, or longer if possible.
Serve pork with steamed rice, pickled carrot, fresh mint and lettuce.