Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Recipe corner: Vietnamese style braised pork with vegetable fried rice

Believe me when I say that you have to make this dish.  I mean, I know that I probably say that about all of them but this one is an absolute must cook.

In the last few years, D and I have made an effort to make more Sunday roasts.  I love a Sunday roast, I really do, but it is one of those things that I didn’t make myself until I was well into my twenties.  And there is no question that it can be a bit of a faff; the individual processes may be easy, but timing everything to be ready together is less so and the whole faffiness is exacerbated when you are working with a tiny kitchen and a distinct lack of dishwasher.   Nevertheless, it is a proud British tradition and one that we have tried to embrace at least a couple of times a month.

What is also a proud British tradition (at least, it certainly was for my grandparents and probably my parents too) is “leftovers day” when the remainder of the joint is served up for supper in cunning disguise. I love leftovers day as much, if not more, than I love the roast.  Sometimes, I’ll just opt for cold meat with a side dish, or even sandwiches (roast beef and horseradish sandwiches are a thing of beauty and joy forever) but I have been trying to get a bit more clever.  That is where this recipe comes in.

In the top five countdown of roasting joints, pork has always scored fairly low for us – there is nothing wrong with pork but it’s not a favourite.  D has now declared that pork must move higher up the rotation of roasts so that we can make this leftovers dish on a regular basis.  And who am I to deny him.

We spied this recipe on the Guardian site (an excellent resource for foodies – so many interesting recipes to browse through) where the author in turn adapted it from a recipe book, and so the recipe Chinese whispers go on.  I reduced it down to two portions (while upping the meat quotient slightly) and served with a lovely stir fried veg and egg rice, which I am expect is entirely non Vietnamese but was just what I fancied and worked terribly well. 

Ingredients

200g cold roast pork, chopped into chunks

Tsp. black peppercorns
Tsp. coarse salt
Tsp. soft brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic
Shallot, finely chopped
Tbsp. fish sauce

2 tsp. soft brown sugar
100ml boiling water
100ml coconut milk

90g basmati rice
Selection of stir fry veg (I used spring onions, baby corn and sugar snap peas)
Clove of garlic, crushed
Tbsp vegetable oil
Medium egg
Pinch of chilli flakes
Splash of fish sauce

In a pestle and mortar, bash together the peppercorns, salt, one teaspoon of the sugar and the garlic until it forms a murky looking paste.   Stir this, along with the shallot, through the pork and set aside while you make the caramel. 

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, place the remaining two teaspoons of sugar over a low heat.  Resist the urge to stir but swirl the pan from time to time to ensure that it is melting evenly.  Meanwhile, stick the kettle on to boil, weigh your rice into the bottom of a steamer pan and slice your veg to suit.  Keep half an eye on the sugar as it will go from caramel to sticky, burnt mess very quickly.

Once the caramel is golden brown and liquid, add the boiling water.  It will bubble up, so exercise a degree of caution.  Allow to bubble frantically for a couple of minutes and then add the coconut milk.  Stir briskly to combine and then throw in the pork and combine everything well.  Reduce
the heat as low as it will go and simmer for around ten minutes.

Cover the rice in water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.  Once it is boiling, turn the heat down and put the veg, in a steamer basket, over the boiling water.  Cover.

After five minutes, remove the vegetables.  Re-cover the rice and turn the heat off.  Allow it to steam for a further five or so minutes until cooked through. 

Heat the oil in a wok or large pan and stir fry the lightly steamed vegetables.  After a couple of minutes, stir through the crushed garlic and cook a little more until the garlic smell has lost its raw edge.  While these are cooking, lightly beat your egg with seasoning and chilli flakes.

Once the veg are beginning to soften but still retain some bite, you can stir through the rice.  Then, make a well in the centre and pour in the egg.  Once it has started to lightly set, mix through the rest of the ingredients.  Add a splash of fish sauce and check the seasoning. 

Check the seasoning of the pork as well – you may need to add more sugar or more fish sauce to get the sweet / salt balance just to your liking (although I found that these measurements worked perfectly).

Serve, and thank goodness for roast dinners and leftovers.

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