Recipe: Coconut Pork

Here is another traditional Vietnamese recipe, and a staple on my family’s dinner table. Usually it’s pork cooked with coconut water and coconut meat, but since I once almost cut my fingers off trying to remove the coconut meat from its shell, we’ll make do with coconut milk.

What You Need:
3 pounds pork butt or shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 c light coconut milk
1/4 C sugar
2 C water
Salt & pepper
Optional: 5 to 6 hard-boiled eggs

Instructions:
1. Make the caramel sauce (I know it sounds weird, but it’s to give the pork its color. And it’s not real caramel, since it’s only cooked sugar and water): in a pot over low heat, cook the sugar until it browns. Add the water (don’t be scared if it sizzles) and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. You want something in this color:

2. Salt and pepper the pork. You can add more salt later if it’s not enough for your taste. In a large pot, sear the pork well. Add the caramel water and the coconut milk, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer until the pork is tender, about an hour.

3. If making the caramel is too daunting for you, you can use soy sauce and/or oyster sauce to achieve the color (I got this from a friend who works in a Vietnamese restaurant), but it will taste a little different. And remember to cut back on the salt if you do so.

4. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, add the peeled hard-boiled eggs (if used), make sure they’re submerged in the cooking liquid. Serve hot over rice. Enjoy!

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