A classic in Vietnamese cooking but really of Chinese origin. The slow braising in caramel sauce is traditionally Chinese and will often feature soy sauce and star anise as well.
In Vietnamese cuisine, the soy sauce was substituted by the ubiquitous fish sauce which makes for a very delicate braising liquid.
The following recipe is very simple. You can tweak and refine it with spices and add fried eggs.
But its simplicity is also its charm. Nothing more then sugar, caramel, fish sauce and a little bit of pepper go into this dish which brings out the taste of the pork.
500g pork belly
4tbsp caramel sauce
2tbsp white sugar
3tbsp fish sauce
oil for frying
1tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 herb plate mit cilantro and long coriander
Clean pork belly thoroughly under running water, then pat dry. Remove the gristle. Cut meat into strips of 4cm. Cut these across into 3cm strips. Put in a bowl and marinate with caramel sauce, sugar, salt and fish sauce for 1 hour.
Remove meat from marinade, drain, and brown from all sides in little oil in a braising pot. First add water, then add marinade, then add more water to cover the meat. Add lid and braise at low heat until the meat has become very tender.
Remove meat from the braising liquid, degrease the liquid and pour through a sieve, then add the meat again and reduce the sauce (no lid) according to taste. Serve with coarsely ground pepper.
Prepare the herb plate: Sort through herbs, remove brownish and yellow leaves and stems, wash herbs thoroughly, shake dry or dry on kitchen paper. Remove large coarse stems, pull herbs apart into mouth-size bites and cut large leaves to size using scissors. Heap on a plate.
Serve with white rice and herb plate.
An alternative is to add hard-boiled eggs fried in oil. Peel the eggs, prick them with a fork, and fry golden brown in hot oil. Add to the cooking liquid.
You can also add fried tofu to the cooking liquid.