This is another Hue-inspired dish. In the
preparation of so many dishes for such a demanding emperor, creativity was
of essence. Bamboo is tradionally used as a cooking vessel in central and
northern Vietnam in the same way that banana leaves are in the south. In
the north, eel is given this treatment because it slips whole into the
bamboo cavity. You will need two bamboo tubes, about 25 cm long, split in
half lengthways and cleaned. You will find them in some Asian stores, or
try the DIY store.
For the marinade
Lean pork shoulder, cut into thin strips
Banana leaves, torn into wide strips (or 8 sturdy leaves, such as cabbage
or vine leaves
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), for garnishing
Unrefined or muscovado (molasses) sugar
Shallots, finely chopped
Spring onions (scallions), trimmed and finely chopped
Fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Green or red Thai chili, seeded and finely chopped
To make the marinade, gently heat the
sugar in a heavy pan about 15ml water, stirring constantly until it
begins to caramelize. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuoc mam,
shallots, spring onions, ginger and chili.
Place the pork strips in a wide bowl or
dish and tip the marinade over. Using your fingers, toss the meat in the
marinade to make sure it is well coated. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours.
Line the inside of two of the bamboo
halves with wide strips of banana leaf. Spoon the marinated pork on to
the leaf, folding the edges over the top. Place the remaining bamboo
halves on top to form tubes again, and then tightly wrap a wide strip of
banana leaf around the outside of each tube.
Prepare a barbecue. Tie the bamboo parcels
with string and cook over the hot barbecue for about 20 minutes. Open up
the parcels, garnish the pork with coriander and serve with noodles or
rice and nuoc cham.
Cooking in the jungle
The method of using a bamboo tube is
popular in the jungles of Loas and Vietnam, where whole fish are cooked
in this way over a fire. The tubes can be lined with thin, flexible
cabbage leaves or vine leaves. If you can't find banana leaves, wrap the
tubes in foil instead.