This rather sweet side dish is usually used as an accompaniment for other spicy mains in Thailand. The most common is Rice with Shrimp Paste (ข้าวคลุกกระปิ), the dish that I haven’t cooked in the past 15 years as it smells like death, although tastes heavenly. It’s one downside of open plan kitchen and I don’t want to cleanse the air with frankincense and myrrh. Caramelised pork is also good for picnic as it does not go off easily. This pork dish can be kept in the fridge for days.
I have made this dish the other day with my shortcut version.
You will need:
300 grams pork steak with a bit of fat, cut into big pieces (about 5-6 cm)
50 grams Palm Sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
A bit of oil for frying
Fry onion with a little bit of ground white pepper in a pan over medium high heat until soft and fragrant. Add pork to seal (don’t brown) and then transfer to the thick bottom saucepan or cast iron casserole. Add water (about 400 mil) and simmer for 20 minutes – lift the meat and slice into smaller pieces (1 cm) and return to the saucepan and add soy sauces. Dark soy sauce will give an instant caramelised brownish colour (my mother will have used white sugar and caramelised it with a little bit of water before adding cooked pork and fish sauce). Simmer with lid on for 40 minutes further or until the pork is tender, add more water if the liquid reduced too much. Add sugar and simmer lid-off until the liquid reduced and thickened. Taste and add more seasoning if required – you can add fish sauce at this point or salt if fish sauce smells too strong for you.
What do I do with it?
I have it with my instant noodles. It’s not at all strange – they serve this in many Chinese restaurants in Thailand too. They cook their pork with some Chinese spices but it’s a similar kind of idea.
Just cook the noodles per instruction on the packet with seasoning in the sachet except seasoning oil if any (I use Yum Yum Chicken Flavour, they come with a sachet seasoning oil). Drain and drizzle with seasoning oil or a bit of canola oil and ½ teaspoon of oyster sauce to prevent them from sticking together and add a bit of flavour.
Slice pork into small pieces and place on top of the noodles in a bowl. Add some liquid from the pork. Sprinkle with chopped spring onion and coriander and a tiny dash of white pepper. Enjoy!