Pulled pork gets a Vietnamese makeover with an umami-rich marinade of hoisin, fish sauce, and a punch of sriracha, mixed together with caramelized onions, aromatic ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Low and slow is the name of the game when it comes to transforming a humble cut of pork shoulder into something marvelously tender and juicy. You can achieve this in the slow cooker, as per the NYT (the inspiration behind this recipe), or you can break out the sous vide!
I tried both. Both were wonderful, but I did prefer the sous vide version. A 24-hour sous vide treatment renders the pork meltingly tender – it literally falls apart with the prod of a fork. It then gets sprinkled with brown sugar and blasted under the broiler to mimic that charred sweetness reminiscent of true Vietnamese street food eats. BYO little red stool.
Once you’ve made pulled pork this way, you’ll be changed for life.
A quick tip on the sous vide, I weighed down the bag so that the pork stayed fully submerged throughout the cooking process. Since this baby was going to go for 24 hours, I also covered the water bath with plastic wrap to minimize evaporation. If the water level still goes down for some reason, just add more to keep the pork submerged.
Don’t skip that final brown sugar/broil step. It’s a trick I learned from David Chang’s bo ssam recipe and it really brings this pork to next level status.
Accoutrements include strands of carrots and cucumber, quick-pickled in sugar, salt and rice vinegar. The fresh acidity of them is a nice counter to the rich porkiness.
Crisp Asian pear and a few flutters of cilantro leaves are the finishing touch. You can bulk up the wraps with a bed of vermicelli rice noodles, or win extra healthy points by using spaghetti squash instead! I happily discovered that they make an excellent substitution. If lettuce cups aren’t your thing, turn these into tacos and use tortillas instead. Whatever vehicle you choose for getting this pulled pork heaven into your mouth is a good one.
A humble cut of pork shoulder gets an umami-rich marinade and a 24-hour soak in the sous vide which renders it meltingly tender. The pork literally falls apart with the prod of a fork. It then gets sprinkled with brown sugar and blasted under the broiler to mimic that charred sweetness reminiscent of true Vietnamese street food eats. BYO little red stool.
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium-size yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- ½ cup hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce, or to taste
- 5 pound boneless, skinless pork shoulder, fat cap removed
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 1 cucumber, julienned
- little gems or butter lettuce, separated into leaves
- 1 Asian pear, julienned
- cilantro leaves
- cooked vermicelli rice noodles or roasted spaghetti squash strands (optional)
- Set your sous vide to 70 C / 158 F.
- Place a sauté pan over medium-high heat. After a minute or so, add the sesame and olive oils, then the onions, stirring to combine. Saute until the onions are softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onions are caramelized. Turn off the heat and stir in the ginger.
- Add the hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and water to the pan, stirring to combine. Add sriracha to taste.
- Place the pork in a zip-top or vacuum-sealed bag with the onion and hoisin mixture.
- Cook for 24 hours in the sous vide bath. Weigh down the bag if necessary, and cover the water bath with plastic wrap to minimize water evaporation. Add water intermittently if need be to keep the pork submerged.
- Meanwhile, prep the pickled veggies: Mix together the sugar, salt, and rice vinegar. Add the julienned carrots and cucumber and reserve in a covered container. Let rest, refrigerated, for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.
- To finish the pork, preheat oven to 500 F or Broil mode.
- Cut a small opening in the plastic bag and drain the liquid into a bowl. Skim off fat and reserve the sauce.
- Remove the pork and remove any excess fat remaining from the fat cap. Shred the pork with a pair of forks. The meat should be unbelievably tender and should shred off easily.
- Place the shredded pork in a baking dish and stir in some of the reserved sauce to taste. Sprinkle with brown sugar, blast in the oven/broiler until caramelized, 10-15 minutes (keep an eye on it if your broiler is strong).
- Assemble lettuce cups by filling with pulled pork and topping with pickled veggies, julienned pear, and cilantro. If you want to bulk it up, also add some cooked vermicelli rice noodles. Roasted spaghetti squash strands make an awesome substitute if you’re going grain-free.
Recipe Source: LickMySpoon.com.
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Don’t have a sous vide? Here’s the Slow Cooker Version.