Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Caramelized Vietnamese Pork

After a self-imposed cookbook moratorium for a while, I got a couple new cookbooks this spring.  I have been so thankful I did.  The first one was Ruth Riechl's My Kitchen Year.  Seriously folks, we have loved almost every recipe I've made from here (and I've made a few).

Last night, the recipe was a caramelized pork.  A brief disclaimer.  I ignored the advice Reichl gave at the bottom of the recipe which was to not double the recipe.  However, I had to.  The recipe served two and I have five hearty eaters.  My end product may not have turned out exactly like hers did, but we all still loved it.  At the end of the meal, I had multiple people telling me to make this again.

Serves 4 - 6.

Caramelized Vietnamese Pork
adapted slightly from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

2 T rice vinegar
1 t sugar
1 medium to large cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, halved and cut into half moons
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/2 - 2 lbs pork tenderloin, thinly sliced (easiest done if pork is at least partially frozen)
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 T sugar
1/4 c fish sauce
fresh mint, coarsely chopped (about 2-3 sprigs)
fresh basil, coarsely chopped (about 2 -3 sprigs)
chili garlic sauce or sriracha
crushed peanuts (optional)
lime wedges

cooked rice to serve 4 - 6

Pour rice vinegar in a bowl and add 1 t sugar and a pinch of salt.  Gently stir in cucumber and ginger  Allow to soak while you make the meat.

Heat a wok over medium-high to high heat.  A water droplet should dance on the surface of the wok and then disappear.  Add some grapeseed, peanut or similar oil and toss in onion and garlic.  As soon as the onion and garlic are nice and fragrant, add the pork and 2 T sugar.  Stir-fry, tossing every few minutes for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the pork has crisped into little bits (I never achieved this due to an overfull wok.  After the pork had cooked for a bit, I poured the extra juice off the bottom of the wok to give the pork a chance to brown.  I simply cooked the pork until it began to brown.  We were hungry, I was out of patience, and didn't want to burn the meat).

Take the wok off the heat and stir in fish sauce until it is absorbed.  Season with black pepper.  Remove the ginger slices from the cucumber.  Add the cucumber slices and the marinade to the pork. Stir.

Serve with rice.  Top with mint and basil (necessary for a more Vietnamese taste), chili garlic sauce if desired, lime wedges, and crushed peanuts, if desired.

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