It’s Heritage Day in Alberta and usually I celebrate the day enjoying all sorts of delicious food from so many different cultures at the annual Edmonton Heritage Festival.
Heritage Festival is a three-day celebration of multiculturalism that features over 40 countries sharing food, entertainment, history and more about their respective cultures.
It’s my favourite summer festival in Edmonton!
Recipe: Vietnamese Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc
(Pork In Fermented Shrimp Sauce).
As with pretty much any Vietnamese recipe I ever share, I must preface with the fact that this dish is very dear to me. Making and eating Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc brings me back to my childhood. It was always on regular rotation as a meal in our household, thanks to my talented mom. When I eat it today, it transports me back to my youth—to a much simpler time.
So what is Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc?
Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc is pork belly cooked in a fermented shrimp sauce (a staple in Vietnamese cooking). It’s often eaten with other Vietnamese staples—rice and cucumber. It’s really a simple but delicious dish (aren’t the most delicious dishes always simple?) But the salty fermented sauce (the Mắm Ruốc part of the dish) can be hit or miss for some people because of how pungent it is. You don’t need to add a lot of mắm ruốc to the dish to achieve a really delicious, umami, and pungent flavour. In fact, this dish has such a stinky reputation, my mom actually wasn’t sure if Mike would like it (it’s like nothing he—a Canadian farm boy—ever tasted before he met / married me). But Mike loves it and I think if you’ve never tried it, you’d still love it too!
Below is my mom’s recipe for Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc (Pork Belly in Fermented Shrimp Sauce).
Please note: when my mom teaches me her recipes, she does not really give me firm measurements. It’s that classic mom “eyeball it” style of cooking (that I also utilize now too lol). So, good luck! lol
- A slab of pork belly
- Lemongrass (fresh or frozen chopped)
- Garlic (chopped or minced)
- Fermented Shrimp Sauce (Koon Chin Brand)
- Red Onion
- Scallions/Green Onions
- Chop the pork into small pieces, then mix pork with garlic, black pepper, chili peppers
- Pork belly is best for this dish but if you’re lazy you can also grab pre-cooked BBQ pork to use lol
- Chop the lemongrass into small pieces (or get frozen, pre-chopped lemongrass)
- Heat oil in pan on medium high
- Cook garlic and onions together in pan (stir until golden in colour)
- Add lemongrass (stir until it’s a bit yellow in colour)
- Add pork, stir well
- Mix some (lol like a spoon) of water in with shrimp sauce mixture, put into pork on pan (stir well)
- Add at least two spoons of sugar (stir well)
- Taste and add more sugar and chili pepper as desired
- Eat your delicious fermented shrimp sauce pork over rice and with cucumbers and green onions!!
And that’s how you make my beloved, childhood Vietnamese Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc!
Well, sort of. This is a casual, inprecise-measurement recipe and that’s how I love to cook.
This dish is the very best when you use a high quality pork belly, particularly with the fatty belly cuts, but when I was capturing these photos with my mom we had lazied out and went with BBQ pork take-out from a Chinatown BBQ joint, lol. And that’s okay too! (judgey people—move along lol).
If you’ve had this growing up and are wanting to recreate it, I hope you enjoy all the comfort it will be bring!
If you’ve never tried this before, please do! I am confident you’ll love it! (Easy on the fermented shrimp sauce if you’re unsure about the pungentness—or just GO FOR IT!!)
Happy Heritage Day!