A few weeks ago, I had a major craving for pulled pork after seeing this pulled pork sandwich from Simply Recipes. I love any big hunk of meat that is slow-cooked or braised. But after looking at the ingredients in the recipe, I was hesitant to make it because it seemed too vinegary.
I have a low tart tolerance and generally dislike anything with a lot of vinegar. And I have major issues with BBQ sauce, Tabasco and other vinegar sauces that dare call themselves hot sauces, but that's a sore subject for another time. When I have barbecued meat, I make sure the BBQ sauce is on the side. I want to taste the meat first and the sauce second!
Instead of making pulled pork with a traditional vinegar or tomato based sauce, I decided to create a Vietnamese pulled pork with my favorite Vietnamese ingredients. I used the flavors from my mom's braised chicken in caramel sauce with lemongrass and chili peppers (ga kho xa ot) as the inspiration for my pulled pork. My mom's ga kho xa ot is my favorite Vietnamese dish and it's the first thing I eat when I visit my parents.
I decided to make the pulled pork in the oven, since I don't have a reliable outdoor grill. My first attempt at making pulled pork turned out well and the SNDsters enjoyed it. I was pleased with the flavors from the dry rub, caramel sauce, lemongrass, chili peppers and fish sauce. However, I used bad cooking directions from a Food Network chef, who shall remain nameless. But let's just say, the results were far from "ultimate."
After searching for better roasting directions, I found a great article on pork butt selection and preparation. I learned the ideal cooking temperature was 225 to 250 degrees F and the target internal pork temperature was 190 to 205 degrees F.
Using these directions, my second attempt at pulled pork was a bigger success. I was extremely pleased with the texture of the pork and how easily it pulled apart. I oven-roasted a 7.5 lb pork butt at 250 degrees F to an internal temp of 195 degrees F and it took 9 1/2 hours. Yes it's a long time, but it's easy work and definitely worth the wait.
During the roasting process, the fragrance of Chinese five spice, which was used in the dry rub, filled my entire place. The pork developed a nice bark, primarily from the brown sugar in the rub. The pulled pork had a great five spice flavor on its own, but it was even more delicious after the lemongrass caramel sauce was mixed in.
I was extremely happy with the flavors of my pulled pork. There was a nice combination of sweetness and heat from the caramel sauce and fresh chili peppers. The saltiness of the pork comes from the kosher salt in the dry rub and fish sauce. The flavors are rounded out by the citrus of the lemongrass.
The pulled pork was served as a sandwich with a side of Vietnamese slaw (goi bap cai). Dinner was completed with an amazing sticky date pudding from Bakesale Betty. The slaw and date pudding will be written up in future posts, so I'll hold off describing them for now.
I created Vietnamese pulled pork to satisfy my desire for pulled pork without a heavy, vinegar based BBQ sauce. "Let the pork shine" was my philosophy. Give it a try and tell me what you think.
SNDsters: Eric, Tracy, Mark, Jane, Hungry Bear, Chuck
Oven-Roasted Vietnamese Pulled Pork Recipe
The quantity of lemongrass caramel sauce is enough to coat the pulled pork from a 5 to 7 pound pork butt and impart the flavors of the sauce. If you desire a wet pulled pork, double the sauce amount and reserve half of it. Then, spoon the reserved sauce over the pulled pork when served.Dry Rub Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Chinese Five Spice
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons course kosher salt
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Lemongrass Caramel Sauce Ingredients:
5 tablespoons canola oil
3 medium stalks lemongrass (9 tablespoon), mince in a food processor
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large shallots, minced
6 tablespoons caramel sauce
5 tablespoons fish sauce
5 Thai chili peppers or Serrano pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 (5 to 7 lb) bone-in pork butt, shoulder or Boston Butt
14 - 16 hamburger buns
1) Remove fat cap and trim excess fat from pork butt. Mix dry rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Apply dry rub evenly over pork butt, wrap in Saran wrap and refrigerate overnight in a roasting pan or on a large plate.
2) Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Place pork butt on the rack of a roasting pan and bake for 75 to 90 minutes per pound. Roast until tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 195 degrees F.
3) Halfway through the estimated cooking time, baste one side with a cotton mop or spoon the basting liquid over pork. Flip the butt over and baste the other side. If desired, repeat basting process one more time, halfway through the remaining cooking time.
4) Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add the lemongrass, garlic, shallots, stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in caramel sauce, fish sauce, chili peppers, and black pepper. Gently simmer for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, return to a simmer for 3 minutes and then set aside.
5) When the pork reaches 195 degrees F, remove from oven. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and rest for 30 minutes. Shred pork by using two forks and pulling apart the meat and discard fat. Put shredded pork in a large bowl. Pour sauce on shredded pork and mix well.
6) Serve pulled pork on a hamburger bun with a side of Asian slaw.
Basting Liquid Recipe
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 chicken stock
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
1) In a saucepan, heat chicken stock, vinegar, brown sugar, fish sauce, five spice, pepper and cayenne over medium high heat.
2) Simmer gently, stirring for 5 minutes until sugar dissolves. The basting liquid will thicken slightly when removed from heat.
[tags]vietnamese, pulled pork, pork, sandwich, lemongrass, caramel sauce, five spice, spicy, roasted[/tags]