Recipe: Rice Kitchen’s Cà bung (eggplant, pork belly and tofu stew)

Cà bung is a light peasant dish served in Vietnam. Traditionally, Vietnamese people wouldn’t have much meat to add to the dish, but the rich and savoury flavour of the stew made the vegetables and tofu so tasty with rice that it didn’t matter.

Warming and super flavoursome, this is the dish the Rice Kitchen crew crave the most when the weather gets cooler.

PLEASE NOTE: Perilla is a herb from the mint family that has quite a delicate flavour, and is very similar to Japanese shiso. It can be found in Asian grocery stores, as can the betel leaves required for this dish.

The tamarind water can be made with tamarind paste. Simply dissolve ½ tsp of tamarind paste with 2 tablespoons of water to create enough tamarind water for this recipe. This will bring a bit of a sour flavour to the stew, which balances out the salty and sweet flavours of the dish.

Total cooking time: 40 minutes Servings: 4-6

800g eggplant, cut into 3cm cubes
500g pork belly
300g firm tofu, cut into 3cm cubes, fried
2 medium size tomatoes cut to wedges 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp oil
1 bunch perilla, chopped into fine strips
2-3 betel leaves, chopped into fine strips
Spring onion, chopped into fine strips
2 tsp salt
½ tbsp sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp tamarind water

1. Cut the pork belly into bite-sized pieces, making sure that each piece has that beautiful layer of fat on the meat. Marinate with half of the salt, black pepper, sugar, turmeric powder, and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Set aside.
2. Submerge eggplant cubes in lightly salted water. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in a large pot. Add minced garlic and shallot and fry until aromatic. Add the marinated pork and stir well for a few minutes.
4. Strain eggplant and add to the pot, stirring. Cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat down to medium for 10 minutes (if you like your stews more soupy, add in 1 cup of water).
5. Add the sliced tomatoes and fried tofu to the pot. Season with remaining salt and fish sauce. Add in tamarind water and sugar and stir gently. Cook the stew for a further 20 mins.
6. Add spring onions, betel leaves and perilla to the pot and stir well. Serve stew warm with steamed rice.

Rice Kitchen provides “Feast Boxes” for those who are putting on a dinner party but don’t have time to cook. Designed as share plates, Rice Kitchen does all the hard work for you, including selecting all your ingredients and providing detailed instructions on how to prepare an authentic Asian feast for your guests.


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