I’m sitting here thinking how quickly this month has gone by and dreading that this is the last recipe I have in my unpublished folder… That means it’s time to get back into the kitchen. I’ve been trying to evaluate what I really want to do with the blog in term of cooking and baking. Baking is what I love to do but I also don’t want to limit and push myself into a corner. At the same time, I want to explore and learn more about Vietnamese cooking among other things. Too greedy? People always say you’ve got to find a niche when you start a blog/website or business for that matter. If I can, I would choose healthy baking that doesn’t compromise sugar, butter and flour. Is that even possible? Yeah, I didn’t think so…
Like this dish, definitely not healthy and not baking related… Vietnamese braised pork with egg. It is one of my absolute favorite dishes. Traditionally, it is made with pork belly, with skin on, often braised with fresh coconut flesh (the way my grandmother used to make it). I’m not claiming this to be authentic by all means since I’ve never spent much time in the kitchen when grandma was cooking. I made this from taste memory and the help of the Wandering Chopsticks, my favorite Vietnamese food blog.
I know you would shame me for not having fish sauce in my kitchen, but I ran out months ago and never went to the store for a refill. I don’t actually use fish sauce in my cooking at all, except for when I make Bun Cha (Vermicelli with Vietnamese BBQ Pork)… You see, my mom kinda hates fish sauce, so she taught me to survive without it. For some dishes, you cannot do without, but this one, it won’t make a big difference.
So about the pork belly, yup, that is pork belly on the right, it’s fatty, it’s good, and the skin is chewy and gelatinous… just the way I like it. But if you are a bit more health conscious, substitute all the pork belly with pork shoulder/butt, it will still be delicious. Then serve it with brown rice and something green like I do 😉 . It’s all about balance, you see. I like my pork off the bone tender so it takes me an hour to an hour and a half to cook this dish. But depending on how you prefer your meat, you can adjust the cooking time by checking for desired doneness.
- 2 lbs of pork belly chunk with skin
- 2 lbs of pork shoulder strips
- 1 liter carton coconut water
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 onion - diced
- 4 cloves of garlic – smashed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 8 eggs
- Rinse pork and pat dry, cut into 1”x2” chunks.
- Dice the onion and smash the garlic, set aside.
- Add 1/4 cup of sugar to a large pot, add about 1/2 cup of water to cover the sugar and place over high heat. Let the sugar and water cook until it is caramelized, do not stir.
- When most of the water evaporates and the mixture turns a caramel color, add the pork to the pot and toss to coat in the caramel sauce.
- Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper, toss to season.
- Add the diced onion and smashed garlic to the pot, toss around to mix everything with the pork.
- Add coconut water, add more water if needed so the liquid just cover the surface of the pork.
- Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium and let simmer for 1 hour until meat is tender and the liquid reduces to about half.
- Meanwhile, prepare the eggs by bringing water in a smaller pot to a boil, drop the egg in and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove the egg from boiling water and drop in cold water to cool. When cool to the touch, peel the eggs and set aside.
- When the meat has been cooking for 1 hour, check to see if you need to adjust seasoning.
- Add the peeled egg into the pot, try to get them in the middle of the pot and get the liquid to cover them. Reduce heat to low and let cook for another 20 minutes to half an hour, flipping the eggs half way so they are seasoned evenly by the braising liquid and turn a light brown color.
- Serve over rice.