How to make jellied pork, a Tet staple
'Thit dong,' or jellied pork, featuring crunchy wood ear mushrooms and a jelly-like savory broth that melts in your mouth upon consumption, is a staple dish of Tet meals in northern Vietnam.
Jellied pork is a popular dish enjoyed in colder months in northern Vietnam. Traditionally served cold, the origins of this dish are often associated with the idea of unintentionally leaving a stewed pork leg outside in the cold.
This recipe serves about 6 to 8 people, takes approximately 70 minutes to prepare, and provides around 2,970 calories in total.
- 1 kilogram of deboned pork leg meat
- 300 grams of pork skin
- 100 grams of wood ear mushrooms
- Spices: salt, fish sauce, pepper, MSG (optional), shallots
- Choose deboned pork leg with a tender texture. Depending on your taste, you can include pork ears, tongue, and nose.
- Remove any hair on the skin, then rub with salt and wash. The collagen in the pork skin turns the pork mixture into a jelly-like consistency as it cools. However, be careful not to add too much pork skin to avoid the jellied pork becoming too tough.
- Submerge pork leg meat and skin in enough cold water to cover them. It's advised to avoid placing the meat and skin directly into boiling water initially to prevent impurities from being trapped in them.
- Add a pinch of salt and crushed shallots to eliminate odors.
- Bring the pot to a boil and let the meat and skin cook for about 5 minutes.
- After boiling, remove and rinse the meat and skin until clean.
- Cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- Marinate the meat and skin with a teaspoon of salt, fish sauce.
- Soak wood ear mushrooms in water, clean, and cut into long strips.
- Marinate the mushrooms with a teaspoon of fish sauce and pepper.
- Over time, variations have emerged, including the addition of carrots and shiitake mushrooms. Feel free to include these ingredients based on your preference.
2. Cooking process
- In a hot pan, fry shallots in oil until fragrant.
- Remove the shallots once cooked and stir-fry the meat in the same oil until it firms up.
- Add hot water, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat.
- Optionally, you can skip stir-frying the meat to preserve its pure flavors.
- Maintain a low simmer and leave the lid slightly open to let steam out, avoiding too much heat. High heat may break down collagen, leading to a cloudy broth.
- Allow the meat and skin to simmer for 50 to 60 minutes. During this time, collagen in the skin gradually transforms into gelatin. This gelatin, when cooled, solidifies the broth, giving it a consistency similar to jelly.
- Add wood ear mushrooms, cook over low heat for 6-8 minutes, season with fish sauce and optional MSG.
- Remove the skin if not preferred.
- After cooking, transfer the meat into individual serving bowls. Optionally, sprinkle the mixture with some pepper.
- Cool the meat in the refrigerator to achieve a jelly-like consistency. In the past, people would wait for the temperature to drop and place the meat bowl outside to cool.
- When serving, gently shake the bowl and place it face down on a plate to release the jellied pork.
3. Final product
- The jellied pork bowl should be clear, with soft meat and a slowly dissolving jelly-like broth when eaten.
- This dish is often served along with a bowl of chillies fish sauce and pickled scallion heads (cu kieu).