The first step is to soak the pork. When stewing meat it is often difficult to maintain the tenderness, even with lean meat, due to the loss of too much moisture. So, first, we must soak the pork in water for two hours, so that it absorbs more moisture. Later we will use another “water” approach that helps retain moisture in the meat, but I will keep that a secret for now.
After soaking for two hours, remove the pork and cut into small pieces of about 3-4 cm. Add 1.5 liters of water to a soup pot, bring to the boil, and add the cut pork and gently stir the pan a few times heat it evenly. When the surface of the meat becomes gray, remove and pat dry with paper towels.
The second step is the stew. First, we’re going to make some candy! Warm up the stew pot slightly then add 15 ml of vegetable oil and 30 g of rock sugar. On medium heat, stir constantly with a spatula, while gently breaking up the rock sugar so it gradually disintegrates into smaller particles.
Sugar melts at about 150 C and caramelizes at 160 C, changing to the familiar caramel brown color. This will give a unique sweet flavor and color to the pork dish.
When the sugar is the color of black tea, put the boiled pork pieces gently into the pot, being careful not to splash the hot caramel (another reason why the pork must be dry before putting it into the pot). Stir gently with a spatula, so that each piece of meat is well coated with the golden caramel.
Add geraniol, star anise, ginger, scallions, cinnamon, dried red chilli’s, cooking wine and dark soy sauce, and stir evenly.
Pour enough boiling water into the pot at the side (not directly onto the meat) to the level of the meat. Add 4 g of salt and bring to the boil and then immediately turn to low.
Make a cartouche by cutting out a piece of baking paper the same size as the inner diameter of the pot leaving a small hole in the middle.
Place the cartouche on the surface of the meat, and cover with the lid. Simmer on low for 1 ½ hours. A cartouche placed directly on top of the meat in addition to the pot lid reduces the loss of moisture from the pork.
Do the third step while waiting for the pork to cook. Put the vermicelli into a large bowl of cold water and soak for an hour, remove and drain. Once the stew has cooked, place the vermicelli on the top of the stew.
Stir the vermicelli in gently until it has fully absorbed the sauce and is soft and flexible. Garnish with some green onions and serve. Mmmm delicious! Enjoy!