thịt heo kho trứng

with MINH LE from The Wassaic Lantern 

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup granulated sugar, plus more as needed

dash of unseasoned rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar

1½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, belly or leg

2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil

2½ tablespoons fish sauce, plus more as needed

½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

5 garlic cloves, smashed

1½ teaspoons black peppercorns

2 cups unsweetened coconut water, strained if pulpy

4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled

2 fresh Thai chiles or 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced (optional)

 

STEP 1:

Make the caramel sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the 1/4 cup sugar, vinegar and 1 tablespoon water until the sugar nearly dissolves, 60 to 90 seconds. Cook without stirring until the mixture turns champagne yellow, about 3 minutes, then continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, frequently picking up the pan and swirling it to control the caramelization. When the mixture is a dark tea color (expect faint smoking), turn off the heat and keep the pan on the burner. Let the caramelization continue until the mixture is burgundy in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Slide the pan to a cool burner and add 3 tablespoons water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Warm over medium heat to loosen, if needed.

STEP 2:

Cut the pork into chunks about 1 inch thick and 2 to 3 inches long, making sure each piece has both lean meat and fat. Warm the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in 2 or 3 batches, cook the pork on all sides until lightly browned, about 1 minute per batch, holding the seared meat on a plate. When done, return all the pork and any accumulated juices to the pot, then add the caramel sauce, fish sauce, onion, garlic, peppercorns and coconut water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim the scum, then adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until a knife tip inserted 1/4 inch into the pork meets little resistance, about 1¼ hours.

STEP 3:

Use tongs to retrieve the pork and hold in a bowl, loosely covered to prevent drying. If peppercorns cling to the pork, leave them for zing, or knock them off and discard. To quickly filter and remove fat from the cooking liquid, set a mesh strainer over a large heatproof bowl, line with a double layer of paper towels and pour the liquid through. After most of the liquid passes through and a layer of fat remains above the solids, set the strainer aside. You should have about 1½ cups cooking liquid.

STEP 4:

Return the liquid to the pot, bring to a boil over high heat and cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer, then add the pork and eggs. Cook, gently stirring now and then, to heat through and coat with the dark sauce, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest 5 minutes, uncovered, to concentrate flavors. Taste and add up to 1½ teaspoons of fish sauce or 1½ teaspoons sugar, or both, as needed for a pleasant savory-sweet finish. Transfer to a shallow bowl for serving. Invite diners to halve the eggs themselves. If you’d like spicy heat, gently smash the chiles in individual dishes for dipping sauce with some sauce from the pot, and use it to dip the pork and egg or to drizzle into the bowls.