Pork cracklings are the residue after rendering pork fat and skin to produce lard. Cracklings are common in Vietnam, and can be used as an ingredient in “spring onion oil”, a type of oily sauce when grilling some seafood. They can be also used in cooking in some stir fry dishes, especially with morning glory.
In this dish, freshly-made cracklings are tossed in a pan with a fairly thick sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, minced garlic and chili. In Vietnamese language, the dish should be called tóp mỡ xóc nước mắm tỏi ớt (literally means cracklings tossed with garlic-chili fish sauce), or some shorter names like tóp mỡ xóc tỏi ớt, or simply tóp mỡ chiên nước mắm.
Pork cracklings seasoned with garlic-chili fish sauce can be eaten as a drinking food and is often paired with beer. Sometimes, the dish is served a dipping sauce made from salt and citrus juice like lime or kumquat to add some acidity. Acidity balances the tastes of the dish better.
Some argue that the best pork fat is the nape fat, however belly fat (including skin, fat and a little lean meat) is often used in this snack food.
Turn off the heat, but add the cracklings back to the pan and toss well with the thick garlic-chili fish sauce.
The dipping sauce is optional. If you use less fish sauce in the previous step, make a dipping sauce by mixing some salt with kumquat or calamansi juice with some chilli slices.
Do not fry the fat pieces for too long, they will be dry and very hard to eat. Do not fry too fast because there is still too much fat in the cracklings.
Adding a little lime juice when rendering lard can help the cracklings become more crispy and delicious.