My dad was in town last month to work on the house again. He can be very difficult to cook for. My dad doesn't like spices or curries, both of which I love. Since my parents have become much more health conscious these days, a lot of Vietnamese comfort foods like Thit Heo Kho Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs) aren't made often, if at all anymore. But after too many meals of fish or venison, my tastebuds were craving pork or chicken, the latter of which my dad doesn't like either (I told you he was difficult!).
When I spotted fresh lotus roots at the Asian grocery store, I started to brainstorm for recipe ideas. I've made Canh Cu Sen (Vietnamese Lotus Root Soup) before, but that was too simple for what I was craving. Perhaps I could replace the hard-boiled eggs in the usual braised pork recipe with lotus roots? I spotted daikon radishes on sale too and it seemed like the perfect foil, the freshness of the radish to balance the earthiness of the lotus root. The daikon also helps tenderize the meat. I used a relatively lean cut of pork shoulder for this recipe to keep it healthier, but feel free to use a fattier cut or even pork belly if you wish. I think a bit of Chinese five-spice powder would be lovely as well, but as I said, my dad doesn't like spices so they were omitted.
Thit Heo Kho Cu Cai Trang Cu Sen (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Daikon and Lotus Roots)
For a 4-quart pot, you'll need:
Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese Caramel Sauce)
1 lb pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1 12-oz can Coco Rico or fresh coconut juice
1 cup water
1 about 3-lb daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Lotus Roots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
About a dozen shallots, peeled, or 1 medium onion, cubed
Optional: If you don't want to make the caramel sauce, you can substitute by adding 1 tblsp of Indonesian Kecap Manis. Also, add 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder if you wish.
Clean the pork and cut into 1-inch chunks.
If you want to be traditional, prepare the Vietnamese caramel sauce. I've been lazy and find the Indonesian kecap manis a great substitute for the same color and sweetness. If you're making the caramel sauce, do that first and then add the pork.
Otherwise, if you're going to substitute with kecap manis, in a 4-quart pot on medium-high heat, drizzle a bit of oil and add the pork.
When the pork is mostly browned, add 1 tblsp kecap manis, 1 tblsp fish sauce, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp ground black pepper.
Add a 12-oz can of Coco Rico.
Add about 1 cup of water to make sure the ingredients are submerged.
Peel and cut the daikon into 1-inch chunks and add them to the pot.
Peel and slice the lotus roots into 1/4-inch pieces and add them to the pot.
So pretty! I love lotus roots. Turn the heat down to medium-low, mostly cover the pot, and let simmer for at least half an hour to one hour.
After 15 minutes, I went to check on the pot and noticed shallots next to the stove and figured I'd add in some of those too.
I kept the shallots whole, so they'd be more like the pearl onions I used in my Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew). Or you could use a small onion if you don't have any shallots on hand.
Loosely cover again and let it braise for another half hour. Do you like my sunny yellow cast iron pot? No Le Creuset for me. I got it at TJMaxx for about $40? Same place I got the red tomato cast iron pot in my Thit Kho Trung recipe and the 7-quart light green oval pot I use for big soups. They've all held up well and I highly recommend them if you're looking for affordable alternatives. I think the price for all three cast iron enameled pots didn't even add up to the cost of one Le Creuset.
Anyway, after about 45 minutes total braising time, the pork should be so tender.
Serve with rice. Drizzle plenty of caramel sauce over the rice.
As for my dad, he still complained. Said shallots aren't for braising, that I should have used regular onions. Oh dad.
Hopefully, with a less picky eater.
Other braised pork dishes:
Suon Kho Xa Gung Toi Ot (Vietnamese Braised Pork Chops with Lemongrass, Ginger, Garlic, and Chilies)
Thit Heo Kho Cai Chua (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Pickled Mustard Greens)
Thit Heo Kho Dau Hu (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Tofu)
Thit Heo Kho Mit (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Jackfruit)
Thit Heo Kho Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
Thit Suon Kho Ngu Vi (Vietnamese Braised Spare Ribs with Five-Spice)
1 year ago today,
2 years ago today, Nuoc Mia Vien Tay - Garden Grove (Little Saigon).
3 years ago today, Portland from Glendora rose.
4 years ago today, Lumpiang Prito (Filipino Fried Spring/Egg Rolls).
5 years ago today, Inka Trails Restaurant - Claremont.
6 years ago today, my oldest uncle's wife's banh canh chay (Vietnamese vegetarian udon).