This dish has exceeded my expectations – using young coconut juice (aka coconut water) to braise and flavour is unexpectedly delicious. I love coconut juice by nature for drinking but haven’t actually tried using it to cook. Coconut juice is known for their refreshing effect and drinking it during hot weather helps to cool down the body.
By simmering in the coconut juice, the pork absorbs the sweet and refreshing flavours of coconut juice as well as its toasted aroma. To get that real coconut flavour, I used freshly-packed real coconut which is available at green grocers. According to Luke Nguyen, author of The Food of Vietnam, this dish was coincidentally created by the Vietnamese locals after they got too excited and incidentally took over his cooking station while filming his show. LOL, I can just imagine how chaotic it was at that time :)
In this recipe, I have used pork bbq ribs which is a little difficult to cook but still as delicious. My lil’ one prefers the pork bbq ribs than the pork spare ribs. In Luke’s recipe, he used boneless pork spare ribs which was cut into bite sizes of 2cm x 3cm. However, this pork cut is a little fatty but juicier.
Pork Ribs braised in Young Coconut Juice (adapted from Luke Nguyen’s The Food of Vietnam)
300g pork ribs
2 shallots, diced
2 tbsp crushed garlic
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
300ml young coconut juice
coriander, to garnish
1. Combine shallot, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp of crushed garlic in a mixing bowl. Mix well until sugar is dissolved. Add pork ribs and rub the marinade well into the meat. Cover and leave to marinade for 30 minutes.
2. Fill a large wok with vegetable oil for deep frying. Heat the oil until 180 celsius or until a bread crumb sizzles when dropped into the oil.
3. Drain the pork from the marinade and deep fry the ribs in small batches, without over crowding the wok. Fry until the pork is brown all over. Remove and drain.
4. Pour the coconut juice and the pork ribs marinade into a pan and bring to boil. Add the pork ribs, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
5. After simmering, increase the heat to medium high and cook for another 5 minutes or until the coconut juice has reduced to one-quarter of its original volume.
6. Add the onion, remaining crushed garlic and a pinch of black pepper into the sauce. Stir well to mix for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
7. Transfer the ribs to a serving plate and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Best eaten with steamed jasmine rice.