Clay pot pork, is a traditional rustic dish made with a fatty cut (which lends so much flavor), a smokey caramel (not butter), fish sauce, and unctuous aromatics including ginger, garlic, and scallions.
I used a Gourmet recipe I had found online. True to my usual form, I only partially followed it. I had a jar of my mom's pre-made caramel and basically just chopped and tossed the meat in it along with about a tablespoon of Thai fish sauce and the aromatics. I threw it in a warm pot, put a lid over it and stirred it a few times for the better part of 30 minutes.
It turned out more like a lacquered pork. Still amazingly delicious, but the usual sauce in which vegetables (I used steamed bok choi) are usually dipped was sadly missing.
We enjoyed it nonetheless. (I had a do-over the next evening when G came home from his business trip.)
Here's recipe from Gourmet Cookbook (which I found online). (What it needed was water; but we'll get to that in the next recipe.)
Clay Pot Pork
Diary of a Foodie: Season Two: Vietnam: The Taste of Simplicity
- Active time:30 min
- Start to finish:2 hr
FROM THE GOURMET COOKBOOK
Cooking meat in caramel sauce is a popular technique in Vietnam; the sweet/bitter sauce makes a perfect foil for slow-braised pork. This is traditionally made in a clay pot, but a heavy saucepan or small Dutch oven also works well. The relatively large amount of fish sauce is important for the flavor of the dish. Serve the pork over white rice.
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth or water
- 1/3 cup Asian fish sauce, preferably Vietnamese
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally, white and green parts kept separate
- 1 lb trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- Cook sugar in a dry 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, without stirring, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar has melted into a deep golden caramel. Carefully add stock and fish sauce (caramel will harden and steam vigorously) and cook, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Add shallots, garlic, and white part of scallions and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes.
- Toss pork with pepper in a bowl and stir into sauce. Bring to a simmer, then cover pan, reduce heat to low, and braise pork, stirring once or twice, until very tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Stir in scallion greens and serve with rice.