Vietnamese Caramelised Pork Bowls – a fast way to transform humble ground pork (mince) into something super tasty that will please the kids AND the grown ups!
With just a handful of ingredients you probably already have, this pork is sweet, salty, beautifully caramelised and absolutely irresistible.
Caramelised Vietnamese Pork – a quick dinner!
Ground meat – which we call “mince” here in Australia – is extremely good value. It’s also just about the least sexy protein I know. Don’t you think? A dry aged piece of New York strip is sexy. Quail is gourmet. Oysters are….well, we’ve all heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac, right? 😉
Mince is…well, it just isn’t fancy. And yet, it makes it into my shopping trolley every single week because it’s such good value and so versatile. Sure, there are the usual suspects you can make with mince. Bolognese, meatballs, burgers, meatloaf, shepherds pie – to name a few of the more common ones.
But sometimes, it’s nice to do something a little different. Like this Vietnamese pork stir fry. The crazy thing about this is that the ingredients list is so short. Chili, garlic, ginger, sugar and fish sauce. That’s it. Seriously!
The secret to this recipe is the caramelisation. It is rare to see recipes made with ground meat that are cooked this way so the meat is caramelised. But those golden brown bits you see – they are the crowning glory in this recipe that takes it from a rather unappetising pale brown-grey colour to a golden brown pile of deliciousness that you will want to eat with a spoon straight out of the skillet. (Go on – you deserve it – cook’s privileges!)
I am not 1000% sure that this is strictly authentic Vietnamese but the combination of ingredients I use most certainly are and it is my replica of dishes I have tried at Vietnamese restaurants here in Australia. It is an adaptation of the marinade I use in my Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Bowl.
I have seen similar recipes made with pieces of pork (especially pork belly), usually with lemongrass in it. Lemongrass is a herb that is commonly used in Vietnamese cooking and if you have some, it will make this even more delicious so I’ve included it as an optional extra in the recipe.
But this version without lemongrass is the way that I usually make this because I don’t usually have lemongrass on hand. However, I always have all the other ingredients. Hope you enjoy! – Nagi x
PS This is fabulous made with chicken, turkey and pork mince (ground meat). I like to serve it over rice and I eat it with a spoon. Sometimes I mix through shredded lettuce, cucumber and carrots which makes it more like the classic Vietnamese Noodle Bowls.
Vietnamese Caramelised Pork Bowls
- 1 1/2 tbsp cooking oil (I use peanut oil)
- 1/2 onion , finely diced (brown, white or yellow) (~1/2 cup)
- 2 tsp grated ginger (preferably fresh)
- 2 large garlic cloves , crushed (~2 tsp)
- 1 birds eye or Thai chili , deseeded and finely chopped (Note 1)
- 1 lb / 500g ground pork (mince) (or chicken or turkey)
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 shallot/scallion stem , finely sliced (Note 2)
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.
- Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chili and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the pork mince and cook for 3 minutes or so until white all over, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon (Note 3).
- Add the sugar and fish sauce. Stir, then leave it to cook without touching until all the juices cook out and the pork starts caramelised - about 2 minutes. Then stir it and leave it again, without stirring, for around 30 seconds to get more caramelisation. Repeat twice more until caramelised to your taste.
- Serve over rice or vermicelli noodles, garnished with sliced scallions/shallots. I like to have shredded iceberg lettuce, cucumber and carrots on the side which is a classic way of making Vietnamese bowls.