Sunday, March 24, 2019

Recipe: Thịt kho nước dừa - Vietnamese Braised Pork in Coconut Water

This year, I thought it'd be nice to start cooking some recipes from the many cookbooks that I own and introducing some different flavours / cuisine to my family. Last week, I made something from the Vietnamese Bible - a famous braised pork dish called Thịt kho nước dừa. This dish is traditionally served during Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. The pork (usually pork belly) is braised with nuoc dua, which is Vietnamese for coconut water.

For my version, I have used pork neck - as I have previously explained, pork neck is a fantastic cut as it has a layer of fat on the top (similar to pork belly) whereas the bottom layer is lean yet tender (which is what our kids enjoy).The best of both worlds! The pork neck is braised in coconut water along with lemongrass, garlic, shallots, fish sauce, golden syrup and sugar for 1 1/2 hours until the fat layers melt-in-your-mouth. The sauce will be a beautiful caramel-like colour at the end of braising time. You can also add boiled eggs before the end of braising time. Absolutely delicious, would definitely be making this again!

Vietnamese Braised Pork in Coconut Water (Thit Kho Nuoc Dua)
Recipe by Baby Sumo, adapted from Vietnamese Bible
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 3/4 hours
Serves 3-4

220ml coconut water (from fresh coconut)
500g pork neck or pork belly, cut into 3cm cubes
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 stem lemongrass (white part only), trimmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 shallot, peeled and quartered
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 star anise
1/2 tsp white pepper
2-4 boiled eggs, peeled (optional)
1 spring onion, cut into 1" lengths

1. Season the pork with 2 tablespoonfuls of fish sauce and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

2. In a food processor or spice grinder, grind the lemongrass, garlic and shallot to a paste.

3. In a heavy saucepan or pot, heat the oil over medium high heat and saute the ground paste (from Step 2) for about 1 minute. Add the pork and toss to coat with the paste. Add the remaining fish sauce, syrup, sugar, star anise and pepper and stir over high heat for 1-2 minutes.

4. Pour in the fresh coconut water. Bring to the boil, skim any frothy residue which floats to the surface, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours until the pork is very tender. The sauce should have reduced and will be a dark "caramel" colour.

5. Add the boiled eggs and simmer for another 10 minutes. Just before serving, add the spring onions and give it a quick stir.

Note: If you cannot get fresh coconut water, you may use bottled coconut water too.

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Friday, March 22, 2019

The Red Beanbag, Publika, KL

Withstanding the test of time is The Red Beanbag, a modern cafe in Publika / Solaris Dutamas which has been around since 2011.  This stalwart in Publika's dining scene continues drawing in the crowds and churning out consistently, well-executed meals, arguably better than ever.

While the restaurant interior remains the same over the years, the menu which is prodominantly Australian-inspired (think brunch) has been injected with unique Asian twists.

We started with the light, refreshing Beet It! Salad (RM28), which comes with beetroot cured salmon along with mesclun salad, avocados, pickled cucumber, cherry tomatoes, radish, red cabbage, nori seaweed and sesame dressing. The beetroot gives the salmon a pretty tinge of colour and I loved the addition of the creamy avocados, nori seaweed (umami) and the tangy pickled cucumber which gave it a nice sharpness.

Start your day right with beautifully poached, runny eggs. Order the The Atlantic (RM27), in-house cured salmon served with two poached eggs, ikura, wilted Australian baby spinach, sauteed mushrooms and fluffy brioche toast, drizzled with Hollandaise sauce. The presentation and flavours were absolutely spot on. And that brioche toast is so good!

The Black Sheep (RM32) features a huge, juicy lamb patty with lollo bionda lettuce, caramelised onions, gherkin, aioli sauce and fried egg, sandwiched between charcoal buns. The burger also comes with crispy, curry fries.

For those with a penchant for spicy food, we highly recommend The Kraken, which delivers delicious, punchy flavours. Squid ink spaghetti is served with a whole, grilled squid, shimeiji mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and a highly addictive spicy creamy sauce. The squid was perfectly grilled and tender, and was complemented beautifully by the spicy creamy sauce, inspired by the Malaysian sambal.

The Avocado Ice Cream (RM16) is the perfect remedy for the current hot spell. Three generous scoops of smooth, creamy, homemade avocado ice cream is served with brownie chunks and honeycomb and nutella fudge sauce.

My favorite cheesecake currently is burnt cheesecake, so I just had to try the version that they offer here. Hit the jackpot, as the Basque Burnt Cheesecake (RM15) was absolutely sublime - so smooth and rich with a lovely creamy centre.

Enjoy a cup of coffee by their award-winning barista. Cappucino (RM10)

Iced Green Tea Matcha by Niko Neko (RM14)

Reservations recommended. Book your table online here:

Click here for the menu.


Opening hours: Mon- Thurs 10am - 6pm; Fri 10am - 10pm; Sat - Sun 9.30am - 10pm.

Location: The Red Beanbag, A4-1-08, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03-2856 8814

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