Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc Pork With Fermented Shrimp Paste – 168 of 365

Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc

Back in the US well before moving to Vietnam even seemed the remotest possibility, I used to sample various foods at a Vietnamese takeaway deli.  Somehow I developed a taste for a highly fragrant (in a bad way) hard to describe minced substance.  It looks like fatty ground meat floating in a reddish oil.  The smell wafting around it reeks like dead fish, and the owner of the deli never would tell me the true identity lest I be scared away from his food joint forever.

Whenever I’d order it, he would always ask, “Are you sure?”  No, I just come in here every few weeks for my health and ask for it just because.  Of course, I am sure!  Along with the Styrofoam container I’d always receive a stern warning that a few spins in the microwave would fumigate the kitchen to new levels of stink never before seen in the west.   Not wanting this sort of trainwreck nuking in my home, I always dutifully ate my portion of smelly meat right away.

Fast forward a few years and what do you know.  A pan full of this stuff happened to be coagulating in the serving case at Café 91 next to my apartment tower.   Of course I had to order some and the woman gave me a strange look as she heaved a ladleful into a takeaway container.   I thought back to that deli and the owner telling me this was not for Americans.  Maybe they are onto something.

Are you scared of this one yet?  It’s spicy.  It tastes faintly of lemongrass and salty fish sauce.   Parts of it are mushy like shrimp with others tough like meat.  I just can’t tell what it was or what sound it made in the barnyard much less if was ocean going.  Maybe some things are just best left inside Pandora’s box.

Curiosity finally got the best of me, and I emailed a picture of this stuff to my friend Thuy.  She identified it as thịt kho mắm ruốc or braised pork with fermented shrimp paste.  Enough said (but trust me, it is good).

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

One Comment on “Thịt Kho Mắm Ruốc Pork With Fermented Shrimp Paste – 168 of 365”

  1. June 2, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    The best cut of pork for this dish is the pork belly.

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