Caramel pork and prawns with pickled greens

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

Surf ‘n’ turf happens the world over. It’s popular too in Hue’s Hang Da morning market, where the indoor kitchens serve this topped with fried niblets of weeny salt-preserved fish and a dish of pickled vegetables alongside. The sweet, the crunchy and the bland, with the salted tartness of the preserved. Balance is all in Vietnam - and they’re brilliant at it. If your thrust is for authenticity, then top the dish with some deep-fried salt-preserved dried fish - south-east Asian stores stock them vac-packed in small plastic bags.

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 3 cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • salt and black pepper
  • ¼ head Chinese greens, cut into sections
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 300 g belly pork (with fat), sliced into bite-sized chunks
  • 8 raw shell-on whole tiger prawns

Method

Tip 4 tbsp of the sugar into a small saucepan, then gently melt over a medium heat, tipping the pan around a little. Keep heating until it turns a good caramel colour, then, standing back to avoid splutters, pour in the fish sauce, stir through and bubble for a few minutes. Stir in the shallots, grated ginger and some pepper and leave to thoroughly cool.

Pack the sliced greens into a small bowl or jar. Hix the remaining 1 tbsp sugar with the rice vinegar and 2 tbsp water and bring to a bubble, then pour over the greens and leave to cool.

Tip the pork into the cool caramel sauce and bring to a bubble, then turn the heat to very low and gently stew for 40 minutes. Add the prawns to the pork for the final 15 minutes of cooking and stir through to coat. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t catch and burn. Add a tbsp or two of water if things start to look too sticky and dry. Serve piled on to bowls of rice with the pickled greens alongside.