Vietnamese pork stew in clay pot

Pork stew in clay pot is one of my favourite dishes from Vietnam. It takes a few hours to simmer away on the stove top, and has really aromatic and comforting flavours – star anise, ginger and chilli all combine with caramel to create a warming and savoury mixture that is great with greens and rice. This recipe has been conjured up by my handsome hubby N. You don’t need a clay pot – you can use any type of lidded casserole suitable for long, slow cooking. If you’ve had a rough day, this stew will make everything feel better.

The type of clay pot that we use is a Columbian Tierra Negra one:

Serves 4

You will need:

500g diced pork
1 tbsp annato seeds (optional)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp palm sugar (or 3 tbsp golden caster sugar)
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
500 ml chicken stock
2 sticks lemongrass, bashed and cut into 3 large sections
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 whole star anise
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 thumbs fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
2 Bird’s eye or half a Scotch Bonnet chilli, finely chopped
Fresh chopped coriander to garnish

First you need to colour your oil. Put a tablespoon of annato seeds into vegetable oil over a medium heat, let them bubble for a minute or two, then remove from the heat and discard the seeds. You are left with a lovely red-coloured oil. Use this oil to cook with – brown the pork in it.

While the pork is browning, make the caramel. Heat the palm sugar (or caster sugar) in a saucepan on its own over a medium flame and wait for it to go dark brown. As soon as this happens, take it off the heat and add a tablespoon of water: be careful as it will spit. Don’t stir it, it will just come together naturally to form caramel.

Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pork, add the caramel, put the pot lid on and simmer slowly on your stove top on the lowest possible heat for a minimum of two hours – any less and the meat will be tough.

The ingredients prior to slow cooking:

Srinkle with chopped coriander and serve with steamed greens and basmati rice. The finished dish:

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2 comments

  1. That stew looks lovely – I have to buy some annato seeds the next time I'm in Chinatown.And I love those clay pots too… will have to get one when I upgrade flats one day! (I too have a tiny kitchen)

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  2. Hi Su-Lin, Annato seeds seem to keep forever – we have a packet that we brought back from Vietnam five years ago that appears indestructible…Even though our kitchen is tiny, the clay pot is stacked high up upon a stack of other items…where there's a will there's a way!

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