Mighty Meaty

Vietnamese barbecued pork with garlic and egg fried rice

I bought four new cookbooks over the weekend — two Vietnamese and two Malaysian — and, so far, I’ve cooked two dishes from recipes in the cookbooks. I thought I’d start with the simpler ones since I’m not that familiar yet with Vietnamese and Malaysian cooking. We had grilled pork, Vietnamese style, last night. There’s nothing different about the grilling part, of course, but the ingredients that went into the marinade formed an interesting combination, to say the least.

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Fish sauce (patis) instead of salt, honey, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, onions and lots of freshly ground black pepper… The marinade was so thick that, once rubbed into the meat, there’s really no need to turn the meat while marinating.

The recipe is easy to remember too. For every half kilo of meat, two tablespoonfuls each of fish sauce, honey, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce; two cloves of garlic, finely minced; two shallots, finely chopped; and as much black pepper as you like.

Marinate the meat for at least an hour (two hours would be a better idea) then grill over live coals or in a convection oven. Don’t grill too close to the heat though (if grilling in the convection oven, keep the temperature to a maximum of 160oC) because the exterior will burn fast because of the honey and the hoisin sauce.

When one side is nicely browned, turn the meat over to brown the other side. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces before serving.

The original recipe (from Homestyle Vietnamese Cooking by Nongkran Daks and Alexandra Greeley) was for a barbecue — the kind you thread into bamboo skewers. If you want to cook the pork that way, cut the meat before marinating.

For an even more special meal, serve your pork barbecue with garlic and egg fried rice.

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Heat about four tablespoonfuls of cooking oil in a wok. Over medium heat, brown two tablespoonfuls of chopped garlic. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Crack two to three eggs in the hot oil. When the white is partially set, stir the eggs with a spatula (or wooden chopsticks). Add four to five cups of cold cooked rice, season with salt and pepper, add the toasted garlic and cook, stirring, until the rice is heated through.

If you want a special accompaniment to your pork barbecue and garlic and egg fried rice, try the achara (atsara) made with ubod ng niyog (heart of a young coconut palm).

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No recipe for this one, sorry. I bought a jar from a stall at Market! Market! just to try it out and, fortunately, it turned out to be good. :)

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