In Vietnam, this homely, rustic dish is
just one of the ways of cooking the meat obtained from the family pig. It
is one of those dishes in which very little effort produces a comforting
and flavorsome meal. If it were being prepared for the large, hungry
family, it would be served with a light soup, stir-fried or steamed rice,
and a vegetable dish. If you do not have a clay pot, a heavy pan works
just as well.
Liquid from a coconut
Pork shoulder, boned and cut into bite-size strips
Fresh coconut, finely grated
Ground black pepper
Copped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, for garnishing
Put the sugar in a pan with 10 ml water.
Heat it gently until it dissolves and turns to a golden caramel color.
Remove form the heat and leave to cool.
In a bowl, combine the caramel with the
nuoc cham and coconut liquid. Toss with pork strips in the mixture,
making sure they are thoroughly coated, then cover and leave to marinade
for 1-2 hours.
While still in the bowl, add the grated
coconut with the pepper, and mix well.
Transfer the pork and the marinating
juices to a clay pot or heavy pan, and pout in 100 ml water.
Bring the liquid to the boil, stir the
meat gently to combine the flavors, and then reduce the heat.
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the
lid and simmer for a further 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened
Season to taste with salt, and garnish
with the coriander.
Extracting coconut milk
To extract the liquid from a coconut,
pierce the soft spot at the top of the fruit with a skewer and pour out
the juice. You can then crack the shell and skin the flesh before