Many of us in the States think of coconuts as a decadent treat. In Indonesia there is a saying that there are as many uses for coconuts as there are days in the year. In India the belief is, "He who plants a coconut tree plants vessels and clothing, food and drink, a habitation, for this generation, and a heritage for future generations." - from thefreelibrary.com
This is a southern Vietnamese recipe called Lon Kho Nuoc Dua, popularly sold on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City(Saigon). The pork was soft and porky tender, but had a salty-sweet angle from the fish sauce, coconut water, and sugar. Turned out wonderfully caramelized . The coconut juice seemed to evaporate during the long braising process, but its unique essence was there. I did not add in any hard-boiled eggs and i am sure it will added a homey-ness and further richness to the dish.
1.5 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1" cubes
2 tbsp sugar
3-4 young coconuts or about 4 c. coconut water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4-1/2 c. fish sauce, to taste
6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
1 fresh long red or green chili, seeded and thinly sliced
Coarsely chopped Chinese chives and green onions
Sprinkle pork with sugar and refrigerate for 1 hr.
Use cleaver to remove top of coconuts and drain water. If desired, scoop flesh from inside, cut into small dice, and reserve.
In a medium pot or saute pan, heat oil over med. heat and brown pork on all sides. If meat begins to burn due to sugar, then add a little coconut water.
Add fish sauce, remaining coconut water, and reserved flesh if using.
Bring to boil and reduce to very low heat. Partially cover and gently simmer til pork is tender and liquid is reduced by half, about 2-2.5 hrs. Check every 30 min. to make sure liquid hasn't reduced too much. If so, you can add more coconut water, tap water, or chicken broth.
Alternately, use the pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes, and then cook uncovered until sauce has thickened.
Add hard-cooked eggs for last 30 min. of cooking.