Tet is the most important celebration of Vietnamese culture. Through the foods meticulously prepared that brings families together in gastronomic enjoyment – the Tet is always mindful of the connection between humans and their natural and spiritual world. What’s eaten in Tet differs from region to region in Vietnam because of differences in weather (thus limiting the ingredients on hand) and taste preferences.
Stewed Dried Bamboo Shoot With Caramel
Before lunar New Year’s Eve, dried bamboo shoot is soaked in water for 2 days. Then it is carefully boiled many times and wash as much as possible so that it becomes white and tender. Before being soaked with black pepper, garlic, sugar, sault, sodium glutamate, five-spice powder and caramel. Pork, pork legs and pork nail are cut into medium sized pieces and half-fried. Put pork and bamboo into a big pot and cook on medium heat. The cook can add sodium glutamate and sault to meet the taste. An important not is that shouldn’t be used fish sauce because it makes the food stale soon. Stewed Dried Bamboo Shoot With Caramel is served with tender Phu Yen paper rice, fresh vegetables. Just roll bamboo shoot, pork, vegies in paper rice and eat with the sauce…
How to make it
- A day before making this dish, soak the dried bamboo shoots in plenty of water. Soak for at least a day, and refresh the water once halfway through.
- Bring the pork belly in a large panful of water to the boil, and maintain on a medium-high heat for another 5 minutes or so, until you see scum rising to the surface. Drain in a colander and rinse the pork under the tap.
- Cut the pork into thickish slices or cubes – I like them in thick slices, about 2cm.
- Do the same for the dried bamboo shoots: bring them to the boil in a big pan, boil for a few more minutes, and drain under the tap. Following the directions of the fibres, shred the bamboo shoots into slivers with your hands.
- Heat a braising pan until nice and hot. Maintain on medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of oil, and stir fry the garlic, spring onions and ginger in the pan until fragrant.
- Add the soybean paste and sugar and stir-fry till you smell the fragrance of the sauce and the sugar is melted.
- Turn the heat to high, add the pork belly slices and stir through so that the surfaces are evenly coated with the sauce. Add the bamboo slivers.
- Add water to barely cover the pork and bring to a boil on high heat. Add the rest of the seasoning, put the lid on and turn the heat down to a mere simmer.
- Let simmer gently for at least 2 hours. I like the fatty bits really melting so I went for 3 1/2 hours this time.
- You can eat as it is, but I’m fussy and want to get rid of the fat floating on top of the sauce. I take the pork pieces out and pour the sauce into a big bowl. Let the sauce cool, then put in the freezer so that the fat solidifies for easy removal.
- Pass the degreased braising liquid through a fine sieve if you like, and pour it back to the braising pan. Bring to a boil again and reduce until it has a thicker consistency. Taste for saltiness and sweetness – does it need more soya sauce or sugar? In any case, add another splash of wine for fragrance. Add the pork and bamboo pieces to the sauce and heat through again. Voilà!
Nowadays, Tré is a rural dish but in the past it’s a royal food. Base of Tré is pork head which is boiled, sliced thinly and fry until it turns yellow. The food is crunchy and funny to eat. The smell of the food comes from garlic, galingale, guava leaves and roast rice powder.
The meat is washed over a lot of water and rubbed with salt to be more aromatic and white. After that, the meat is boiled. When boiled the meat, the fire and time must always be adjusted and controlled carefully so as not to reduce the brittle of the pork. Boiled meat is soaked in cold water to be crispy and not sticky and then cut with specialized tools to make each piece of meat thin and beautiful.
Next is adding some spicies for the meat. Galangal root, chilli, garlic, sesame seeds and roasted rice are mixed well, together with the meat and other spices.
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