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Pork Lacquered with Vietnamese Sour Caramel

I had a beef version of this the last time I was in New York City and, when faced with a lot of cabbage to get through and a pork chop, decided to attempt something similar. It definitely worked -- a burnished sweet and sour pork chop sitting on vegetables that tasted like the filling for spring rolls.

1 boneless pork chop, sliced into bite-sized slices

2 cups of assorted vegetables (I used a lot of cabbage, some radicchio and a bit of red pepper for color)

1/4 cup of chopped white onion

1 tsp grated ginger root

2 tsps dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp black vinegar

Salt to taste

Place the brown sugar in a skillet over low along with one teaspoon of water. Gently let the mixture melt into caramel without stirring, though you can move the pan around to keep the caramel from burning.

Once you have a deep, rich caramel, stir in the fish sauce.

At that point, add the pork pieces and the onion and cook, stirring constantly and adding a teaspoon of water or white wine if it looks as though the caramel is going to catch, until the pork is cooked through and lacquered with caramel on all sides, about five to seven minutes, depending on the size of your pork pieces.

Remove the pork from the pan and set aside under a foil tent while you cook the vegetables.

Add the vegetables and ginger to the onions and caramel remaining in the pan along with two teaspoons of water and a little salt. Cook until the vegetables are fork tender, stirring up from the bottom to incorporate the cooked onions into the vegetable mixture.

Stir in the vinegar as soon as the vegetables are cooked to your liking and serve, topped with the pork pieces.


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