Three of my favorite things in the world — chicken, pork and egg (not necessarily in that order) — in a single dish. Good? It gets better. I sautéed ginger, black peppercorns and shallots, added browned chicken and pork then cooked both in that dreamy Vietnamese sauce called nuoc mam pha. When most of the liquid has evaporated, I added hard-boiled eggs and continued cooking everything until quite dry — just long enough for the eggs to soak up the flavors of the remaining sauce.
But, you may ask, it takes longer to cook pork than it does chicken — won’t the chicken have disintegrated by the time the pork is done? Aahhh, but there is a technique to prevent that from happening which is described in detail below. With that technique, the pork and chicken get uniformly cooked, resulting in a dish that is extraordinarily good although (I must admit) a bit pale. If you’re familiar with nuoc mam pha, then, you can already imagine the taste — a bit salty, a bit sweet, a bit sour and a bit spicy. Add to that the wonderful aroma and flavor of ginger and that’s what this dish is all about.
Now, about improving the appearance. Perhaps, a few slices of red chili sprinkled on top just before serving would have provided the much needed color. But then, I’ve always considered the visuals to be secondary. It’s really about how a dish tastes and feels in the mouth, and this dish is not wanting in that department.
- 500 grams boneless pork belly cut into two-inch cubes
- 500 grams cut-up chicken parts thighs, wings and drumsticks are good choices
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 one-inch knobs ginger julienned
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 shallots or an onion thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 cups nuoc mam pha strained
- 6 hard-boiled eggs shelled
- finely sliced scallions to garnish
Place the pork and chicken in separate bowls. Sprinkle both lightly with salt.
Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Brown the pork cubes. Scoop out and set aside.
In the remaining oil, saute the ginger, peppercorns and shallots until fragrant. Add the browned pork. Pour in about a cup and a half of the strained nuoc mam pha. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and braise for 30 minutes.
About five minutes before the 30-minute braising time for the pork is up, heat the remaining cooking oil in a frying pan. Brown the chicken pieces in it. Scoop out out the chicken and add to the pork. Stir. Pour in the rest of the nuoc mam pha and continue braising for another 30 minutes.
When the pork and chicken are both tender (most of the liquid should have evaporated at this point), add the shelled eggs and cook for another few minutes.
Transfer the pork, chicken and eggs to a platter or shallow bowl. Pour whatever remains of the sauce over them. Sprinkle with finely sliced scallions and serve with rice.