4 – 6 chicken or duck eggs or 12 quail eggs or as many as you want
2 white turnips, peeled and cut in finger size
3 cups young coconut juice or substitute with Coco Rico
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
½ teaspoon thin soy sauce
1 tsp food seasoning (Knor)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb pork butt or shoulder, sliced into two-inch chunks. Traditionally, a nice fatty portion with skin attached is used.
1 medium onion or 3 scallions; sliced or diced, trimmed, halved, and white bulbs lightly crushed
2 ounces fresh ginger, sliced and lightly crushed
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
3 or more dried red chilies (optional)
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder (optional)
5 star anise (optional)
Gently place the eggs in a pot and just cover with water. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat and cook until soft boiled, about 5 minutes (about 2 minutes for quail eggs). Rinse under cold water and allow cooling completely. Carefully shell the eggs, being careful to keep the eggs intact.
I usually start boiling the water for this while I prepare the meat. Cut meat into 2-inch wide chunks. Wash and bring to a boil in 2minutes. Wash again and put the meat to a big bowl. Add fish sauce, Knor, oil, black peppercorn, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, scallions/onion, chili and stir to color the pork. Set it aside in 30’ – an hour.
Caramel Sauce: Make a caramel by combining the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the sugar is melted and turns a rich gold, about 8 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the pork [had been colored], turn them to coat evenly on all sides. Add in the coconut juice and enough water to cover the meat with about an inch of water over. Stir again to mix it up. If you like sweeter meat, you can use additional coconut juice in lieu of the water. Taste and adjust sugar or fish sauce if necessary. Reduce the heat to low and stir until the sauce is completely smooth. Add five spice/ star arise if want.
Turn heat to medium low and allow simmering for at least half an hour, ideally an hour. The longer it cooks the tenderer pork gets. The water will cook down and meld everything together — the pork and onions will soften, the almost burnt sugar takes on a deep molasses flavor, the saltiness of the fish sauce balances it all. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Do not cover while simmering. Stir occasionally.
When the pork is nearly done [ideally after an hour and half], add the turnips and the hard-boiled eggs, making sure to put the eggs in the middle of the pot so they can absorb the caramel sauce flavor and color. You don’t want to put the eggs too soon because they’ll get rubbery. Continue simmering, ladling sauce over the eggs occasionally, until the eggs turn golden and cook through, about 5 minutes.
This dish can be pretty fatty if you choose to use pork belly or a skin-on portion, so I’d suggest making this and then refrigerating it for several hours or overnight. The excess fat will congeal for easy removal. Just reheat by letting it simmer for a few minutes. Add lime juice, red chili, spring onion if you want.
Serve best with rice. This is a hot dish for a cold day.
On the stove now!
More Vietnamese traditional dishes for Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) was listed here