Stir -Fried Pork with Shrimp paste, Lemongrass, and Chili-Thịt Heo Xào Mắm RuốcXả Ớt

Vietnamese food

This  is a Vietnamese comfort dish and the taste will be slightly different depending on shrimp paste’s quality and region.  It is serving as a side or main dish with rice and other courses.  Add a little water and adjust seasoning if  using it a dipping sauce for veggie as cucumber, lettuce, and herbs.  Do not try this dish if you are not a true adventured eater because shrimp paste/sauce pungent aroma will get extremely stinky  when being stir-fried.

Most of Vietnamese here cook this dish outdoor unless the kitchen has a powerful vent.  I use Koon Chun or Lee Kum Kee brands.  They are not expensive and last a long time in the fridge after being opened. Some Vietnamese shrimp paste contains food color so the color is very dark purple.  Stay away from them.  In Vietnam, this dish will be filled with more coarsely chopped lemongrass and more shrimp paste.  Crushed red pepper flakes can be used  (1/2-1 tsp ) if fresh chili is not available.

Fresh lard is made from trimmed fat will enhance the flavor.  Thinly slice trimmed fat, and stir fry it with a little water in a saute/sauce pan over medium heat until the fat is rendered.

Make 2 servings in a multiple course meal.

1/2 lb pork belly or cheek, shoulder/butt (marble fatty look is preferred), cut into batons : 1/4 in. x 1/4 in. x 2 in.
1 stalk lemongrass (white, young, tender part only) thinly sliced about 1/4 cup, then finely chopped
1 small Asian shallot, minced (1 Tbs)
1 garlic clove, minced (1 heap tsp)
2 small red hot chili- keep 1 whole, seed and thinly slice one
1 Tbs sugar
1/16 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp fine shrimp paste
2 Tbs vegetable oil or lard ( made from fat trim)

  1. Heating oil or lard into a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir in garlic, shallot, and lemongrass.  Keep stirring until fragrant.  Add pork, sugar, salt, and ground black pepper.  Stir constantly until the pork is seared all side.  Lower the heat if needed to prevent scorching. if use pork belly with the skin, check and make sure the skin soft before add shrimp paste.  It is very rare to have pork with tough skin here.  If the skin is not soft add 1/4 cup of water and simmer until the skin is soft.  Add more water if needed.  
  2. Lower the heat down to  medium low if not done.  Add shrimp paste and sliced hot pepper, stir to mix all ingredients together.  Toss the whole chili on the top, cover and simmer gently, stir occasionally a few minutes until the pork cooked through and the sauce is thickened and shiny.  

*If you do not know quality of shrimp paste, use a little more amount of shrimp paste and mix it with a little water to thin it out in a small bowl and set aside until use.  This step helps tiny sand or stone particles separated and deposited at the bottom which will be discarded later. When adding shrimp paste to the meat, pour the top part gently and discard small amount of mixture at bottom.

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