Pork Cracklings in Garlic-chili Fish Sauce (Tóp Mỡ Chiên Nước Mắm)

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  • 2Servings
  • 10 mPrep Time
  • 10 mCook Time
  • 10 mReady In
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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.

pork cracklings
Pork cracklings

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.

pork crackling and garlic chili fish sauce
Pork crackling and garlic chili fish sauce

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.

Ingredients

Step by step method

  • Preparing the fat

    Blanch the pork belly fat in hot water (with some sea salt) for 2-3 mins, then soak in cold water. Slice the fat into dices (traditionally) or into bite-sized pieces (preferably).

  • Rendering cracklings

    In a hot frying pan, add the fat pieces and stir well until they are melted. Use a frying strainer to drain the cracklings, and set them aside for later use.

  • Making sauce

    In a new saucepan, add 1/2 tablespoon of melted lard, then add minced garlic and chili to sautee. Next, add fish sauce and sugar and stir well, until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is thick.

  • Tossing

    Turn off the heat, but add the cracklings back to the pan and toss well with the thick garlic-chili fish sauce.

  • Optional dipping 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.

Tips & variations

  • 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.

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