PORK SHOULDER, VIETNAMESE
Secrets of the Red Lantern (Vietnamese)
by Pauline Nguyen and Luke Nguyen
Mark Jensen: This is my take on a very traditional peasant-style dish. Shrimp paste was originally used to extend the flavor of the pork, compensating for the scarcity of meat in Vietnam. That way, more rice, herbs, and vegetables are consumed. The intense flavors of this combination have meant this dish has become comfort food for me. It is eaten with an abundance of raw cabbage, cucumber, bean sprouts, mint, and long stems of cilantro and scallion.
Pork Shoulder, Slow-Cooked with Shrimp Paste & Lemongrass (Thit Heo Mám Ruôc)
2¼ pounds pork shoulder, with skin and fat
1½ tablespoons oil
4 (3¼-inch) pieces of lemongrass (with white part), finely chopped
2 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
Approximately 8 cups pork stock (recipe below)
Wash the pork under cold water, then pat dry with a paper towel. Place on a cutting board and cut into 1½ by ½-inch pieces. Put the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the lemongrass, scallions, and garlic. Fry until the lemongrass starts to brown slightly, then add the shrimp paste with 2 tablespoons of water and increase the heat. Add the pork to the pan and stir through well. Seal the pork, then add the remaining ingredients and enough pork stock to cover the meat by about ¾ inch, then bring it to a slow simmer. Cook for 1½ hours, adding a little extra stock if required. You should be left with enough liquid to sauce the dish.
2¼ pounds pork bones
1 chicken carcass
2-inch piece of ginger
1 bulb garlic
1 lemongrass stem
5 quarts water
Wash the bones under cold water, then place them in a large saucepan. Slice the ginger and garlic bulb in half; crushed the lemongrass and scallions with the back of a cleaver or mallet. Put all of the ingredients in the pan and bring to a boil. Skim the impurities from the surface of the stock, decrease the heat to a simmer, and continue to cook for 2 hours, skimming constantly. Pour the stock through a fine strainer into another saucepan and allow to cool. Once cooled, portion into smaller amounts and refrigerate or freeze until needed. The stock will last in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months.