July 30, 2016
Easy Vietnamese Caramelized Pork
Shopping list: 2 Armenian cucumbers, ginger, 3/4 pound pork tenderloin, fish sauce, peanuts, mint, basil, 1 lime.
Staples: 1 small onion, rice vinegar, oil, sugar, pepper, Sriracha.
Pour a couple tablespoons of rice vinegar into a small bowl and add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Slice two Armenian cucumbers into thin rounds, along with a small knob of ginger. Put them into the vinegar and allow the flavors to mingle while you make the pork.
Slice 3/4 pounds of pork tenderloin into very thin slices. (This is easiest if you get the meat very cold before slicing. It can be difficult to find small tenderloins; when I end up with more meat than I need, I chop the remainder and save it for another dish.)
Get a wok so hot that a drop of water dances on the surface and then disappears. Add a couple of tablespoons of peanut or neutral oil and immediately toss in one small onion, thinly sliced, and a clove of smashed garlic. As soon as it’s fragrant, add the pork and a tablespoon of sugar and stir fry, tossing every few minutes, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pork has crisped into delicious little bits.
Take the wok off the heat and stir in two tablespoons of fish sauce; it should become completely absorbed. Grind in a lot of black pepper.
Remove the ginger from the cucumbers, drain, and mix into the pork.
Serve with rice. Put fresh mint and basil on the table, along with crushed peanuts, lime wedges and Sriracha, and allow each diner to make a mixture that appeals to them.
This will feed two people very generously. Unless you have a very large wok and a ferocious source of heat, the recipe does not double well; you want the pork to get really crisp.
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I love this. I love your tweets.
Thank you. It sounds divine. It also sent me to the Internet to find out what an Armenian cucumber is – interesting, it’s a melon (or from that family). Now I have to scout a couple down.
Ah Ruth….yet another recipe to get to! Looks divine. Still loving your husband’s fav of the pork and noodles and working my way thru those spot prawns you raved about. I grew up in MD, so made the first batch with Old Bay and honestly with prawns this good it almost felt just plain wrong to season them up so much!! Did the butter and lemon last night and want that again and again!! Hugs to you for your inspiration!! Hope to come to LA soon again so I can read what’cha eating and doing!! Somehow I just love you….always, D
Ruth, I’ve read your restaurant reviews, Gourmet, and your books. During quarantine, “My Kitchen Year“ has been a steady companion. Your words comfort me, remind me of what’s important, what lasts, and the joy to be found in the moment — a walk in the woods, an afternoon on the porch swing, the beauty of a dozen pots of loud red geraniums all in a row, the smell of rain — and the mindful preparation of good food. This recipe is one of our favorites. Plus, mint and basil grow outside our back door. Thanks, Ruth. For everything. We live in North Egremont. Can’t figure out why we’ve never run into each other at Guido’s. Linda Ellerbee
Linda! I had no idea you were my neighbor. Amazing that we’ve never met in Guido’s aisles – I’m there almost every day. If this madness ever ends, we should get together. In the meanwhile, thanks for your kind words – and stay safe.