Jellied Pork (Thịt Đông)

A savory meat jelly made with pork and wood ear mushrooms.

If you are not familiar with this dish, it may look rather unusual.  What is this exactly?  Meat-filled snow globes?  Fossilized pork parts?  Interestingly, this dish of jellied meat is not distinct to just Asian cuisine, but is also popular in Eastern and Western European cuisine as well.  The traditional recipes use meats with cartilage such as hocks, feet, tails, etc., as the cartilage contains the gelatine needed to set the dish.  These recipes are laborious to make because the meats need to be thoroughly cleaned–these choice parts are often not the most sanitary.  Additionally, breaking down cartilage often takes hours of slow cooking.  Thank goodness for packaged gelatine!  Now, we can use a leaner, cleaner cuts of meat, cook the dish in a quarter of the time and still have it solidify beautifully.  As odd as it may appear, this scrumptious dish is full of flavor and contrasting textures.  The savory, grainy pork in comparison to the cold, smooth jelly may confuse your taste buds but once you try this Jellied Pork, your mouth will be begging for more.  🙂

Notes on the recipe, tips and tricks

Use any cut of meat you like but pick something with a little bit of fat which helps the meat to be tender.

We cook the wood ear mushrooms separately and then add to the pork in the final step.  We do this because cooking the mushrooms with the pork turns the broth a murky, brown color which is not so appetizing.

Use any small bowls, cups, molds or pans you have.  In the video, I use 8 small glass bowls from Libbey.

Cover and store any uneaten portions in the refrigerator.  This is best if consumed within the week.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

1 medium carrot
2-inch section fresh ginger
3 shallots
2 lbs pork butt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1/8 oz dried wood ear mushroom slivers
1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil + 1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 1/2 cups water
1 packet (.25 oz or 7 gm ) unflavored gelatine

Directions

Peel the carrot and cut 8 coins about 1/4-inch thick.  Use decorative vegetable cutters to make 8 carrot flowers.

Remove the skin from the fresh ginger.  Cut the ends off the shallots, remove the skin and then cut in half.

Cut the pork butt into smaller sections and then cut into slices about 3/4 inch x 1 1/2 inches and approximately 1/4 inch thick.  Place the sliced pork into a bowl and add the sugar, salt, ground white pepper, and 1 tsp minced garlic.  Combine together and let the meat marinate for 15 minutes.

Place the wood ear mushrooms into a microwave-safe bowl and cover with hot water.  Allow to soak for 10 minutes.  Place the bowl into the microwave and cook on High for 4 minutes.  Drain the mushrooms into a colander and rinse with cool water several times.

Heat a pan over Medium High heat and when hot, add the vegetable oil and 1 tsp minced garlic.  Stir-fry for 15 seconds.  Add the pork and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until it’s just slightly pink.  Add the fish sauce, shallots, ginger and water and combine together.  Cover the pan and increase the heat to High to bring to a boil.  As soon as the broth boils, reduce the heat to Low and skim off all the foam.  Cover the pan again and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the pork is tender.

Add the gelatine and stir together.  Turn off the heat, add the wood ear mushrooms and combine together.  Remove the ginger and shallots from the pan and discard.

Center a carrot flower on the bottom of each bowl.  Layer an even amount of pork and mushrooms into each of the small bowls.  Strain the broth into a measuring cup.  Pour the broth into each bowl covering the pork.  Using the back of a spoon, press down on the pork to submerge it in the broth.  Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and then place in the refrigerator.  Chill for 4 hours, overnight is best.

To serve, run a sharp knife around the bowl to loosen the jelly.  Invert the Jellied Pork onto a plate.  Serve with a generous side of Pickled Mustard Greens and hot rice.  Enjoy!

Yields:  8 servings

The contrast of the cold Jellied Pork with the steaming hot rice is to die for!

Jellied Pork (Thit Dong), Pickled Mustard Greens (Dua Cai Chua) and Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Cakes (Banh Chung)

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2 Responses to Jellied Pork (Thịt Đông)

  1. Ann March 6, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    Chi Trang oi, here’s a crazy question, can I replace gelatin with agar agar, teaspoon per teaspoon?

    • Trang March 10, 2015 at 11:48 am #

      Hi Ann,

      Not a crazy question at all! 🙂 Agar agar powder makes a denser jelly than gelatin so you’ll want to use half of the amount (this recipe uses 2.5 tsp gelatin so use 1.25 tsp agar agar powder.) Also you need to boil agar agar to activate the gelling properties. For this recipe, add the agar agar powder earlier in the cooking process and bring it to a boil for a few minutes. Hope that helps!

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