This Vietnamese braised pork dish features eggs, onions, a sweet caramel sauce and daikon, which is an Asian mild white East Asian radish, over a cucumber salad.
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
3 lbs. pork butt or shoulder, trimmed, cut into 2-in. cubes
1/2 cup green onions, bruised, cut into 1-in. pieces
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. shallots, minced
21/2 lbs. daikon, peeled, cut in
2/3-in. half-moon pieces
8 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled
1 cup cilantro, cut in 1-in. pieces
Yield: about 11/2 cups
1 cup sugar
3 cups boiling water
Yield: 15 servings
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 tsp. salt
4 European-style cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, into 1/4-in. half-moons
2 tbsp. shallots, sliced thin
3 tbsp. cilantro, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
Fresh chiles, sliced thin (optional)
1. Combine ½ of fish sauce, Caramel Sauce (recipe below), pork and green onions. Set aside to
marinate at least 2 hours.
2. Add oil to large pot over medium flame. Add shallots and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Drizzle remaining fish sauce around edge of pan. Stir until mixture starts to bubble, then add pork and all marinade juice and cook for 3 to 5 mins.
3. Add enough water to just cover pork. Simmer uncovered for 20 mins.
4. Add daikon and simmer another 20 mins.
5. Skim and discard any fat that rises to the top.
6. Add hard-boiled eggs and simmer for another 5 mins. until heated through and are stained with caramel color. Sauce should reduce by half and become dark brown. Meat should be very tender but not quite fork tender. Total cooking time is about 50 mins.
7. Remove and transfer to serving dish. Cut eggs in half. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and Cucumber Salad (recipe below).
For Caramel Sauce:
1. Place sugar in heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook undisturbed about 3 to 4 mins., until edges start to smoke and burn. Sugar around edge will start to turn brown and then almost black.
2. Using long-handled wooden spoon, stir sugar a few times. Leave spoon in pot. Make sure boiling water is nearby.
3. Stand back and, using another ladle, carefully add ½ cup boiling water into sugar. (It will splatter.) Slowly add another ½ cup boiling water. Caramel Sauce should be dark brown and thin.
4. Set aside to cool.
For Cucumber Salad:
1. Combine water, sugar, vinegar and salt in small pot and heat over medium flame just until warm. Stir well to blend, then set aside to cool.
2. Place cucumbers, shallots, cilantro and chiles, if using, in mixing bowl. Add vinegar mixture and gently toss ingredients a few times. Allow to sit for 10 to 30 mins.
3. Just before serving, drain and discard 90% of liquid. Serve with braised or grilled meats.
Recipe adapted from chef Mai Pham