Thịt Heo Kho-Stewed Pork in Caramel Sauce

Vietnamese food

Serve 2 in a multiple course meal

1/2 lb Pork, cut into thin slices, strips or cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 shallot or a small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs fish sauce
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbs of caramel (bitter sauce) or 1 Tbs of white or brown sugar
1 Tbs vegetable oil for searing pork in method 1
1/2 cup water
Serve with cooked rice and other side dish
Method 1
Mix together pork, garlic, shallot, fish sauce, sugar, pepper,  ground pepper and caramel sauce. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat, and sear the pork. Keep tossing the pork, until no raw look outside, add water and bring it to boil.  Then turn down the heat to medium low, covered and simmer for about 10 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Continue simmering until pork is tender.  It is usually faster with thinly slices, and longer for trips or cubes about 20 minutes total. If desired for thicken sauce, cook uncover for further 5- 10 minutes. Serve with cooked rice and steamed veggie of your choice.  Use the sauce to dip veggie and season the rice.
Method 2:  no oil
In a small sauce pan, combine pork, garlic, shallot, fish sauce, sugar, caramel, and black pepper.  Stir well  over a medium high heat until the pork lightly shrunk.  Add water, bring to a gently boil. Cover, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer until the pork is tender and dark brown caramel color. Stir occasionally.
Method 3:  no caramel sauce
Heating oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add garlic and shallot, stir until fragrant.  Have the water ready. Add 1 Tbs sugar, stir until sugar turns golden brown, add water, fish sauce,  pepper.  Then add pork.  Turn down the heat to medium low, cover and gently simmer pork for 15 minutes, taste adjust seasoning if needed.  Continue simmer until pork is tender and can pull apart easy with fork or chopsticks.

Caramel sauce (bitter sauce)

It is very convenient if you like stewed dish with caramel color and smoke flavor.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Place sugar in a medium saucepan.  Heat it over medium high heat.  Stir continuously, sugar will become clumps first but melt down and turn dark brown color. Have the water ready.  The color will change from clear gold to deep brown as maple syrup.  It starts foaming and smoke starts to rise.  Stand back and cautiously add water-the hot sugar and water might splash out.  It will be bubbling and steaming briefly and some sugar will be seized.  One the sauce settles down, continue cooking and stirring until the sauce is smooth and return to a boil.  Set aside to cool, and transfer to an air tight container.  Store at room temperature to use as needed. The caramel will be thicken when it is cool but it will be good for months.  The darker brown color will make bitter sauce so if you like bitter add water when the sugar has the molasses brown.

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