After reading half a dozen frugal-themed cookbooks for the blog, I’ve noticed that most focus on Western traditions: Urban Pantry turns stale bread into breadcrumbs, crostini and easy bread pudding, Smart Food has a whole section dedicated to pasta, and every book I’ve picked up has a variation of roast chicken with forty cloves of garlic. There’s the token oriental recipe thrown in, such as Vietnamese chicken meatballs (The $120 Food Challenge) or Sichuan-style eggplant (The Thrifty Kitchen), but I believe Asian cuisine has so much more to offer. Hence I’ve started ‘Thrifty Asian’, a new category on thrifty culinary practices from the region.
The first recipe that I would like to share with you is courtesy of Trang from Hai Phong, Vietnam. She’s been trying to replicate her mother’s giò tai heo (pork-ear terrine) and was kind enough to share her version of the dish with me.
The terrine consists of cheaper cuts of pork, namely ears, belly, and gravy. I’ve dubbed it ‘mystery meats terrine’ because it uses the less popular parts of a pig. Using these parts enables us to make the most of an animal, which is, according to River Cottage’s Hugh Fearlessly Eats It All, a more respectful and frugal approach to eating meat.
Trang’s terrine is crunchier than the giò lụa found in shops as it contains a higher percentage of cartilage. It’s best served thinly sliced; you can add it to your favourite Vietnamese dish, whether it be bún bò Huế, bánh cuốn or the versatile rice paper roll.
Trang’s Mystery Meats Terrine
Produces 4 rammekin-sized terrines
500g gravy pork
500g pork belly
1-2 pairs of pork ears
1 & 1/4 cup of rehydrated black fungus, julienned
1 tsp milled pepper
50mL fish sauce
1 tsp salt
- Line 4 clean rammekins with banana leaves*. Allow 5-10cm overhang so that the leaves can fold over the top of the terrine.
- Parboil the belly and gravy to remove the strong pork flavour. Discard cooking water.
- In a large pot, cover belly, gravy and ears with fresh water. Add salt and bring to the boil. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Take out meat and set it aside to cool. Save the cooking water as this can be used as pork stock for another meal.
- Once meat is cool enough to handle**, slice it into long, thin strips.
- Cook sliced meat and black fungus in a wok over low heat. Once wok is glossed with pork fat, increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring regularly, for 20-30 minutes until meat has shrunk by half and is sticky. Season with fish sauce and pepper.
- Divide meat evenly amongst the rammekins and fold the banana leaves over the top. Push down with the bottom of a clean jar to compact the meat. Then leave some heavy plates on top of the rammekins to keep meat compressed.
- The terrine should be ready to eat after 2-3 hours of compression. To store: wrap in plastic film and keep in the fridge for up to one week.
*Unless you have your own banana tree, banana leaves can be pricy in Australia. Trang and I tried substituting waxed sandwich paper, which ended up sticking to the meat, but you can try using aluminium foil or nothing at all if you’re game. If you do intend to use banana leaves, however, don’t forget to flame-treat first to make them supple.
**The ears may still have some hair on them. Wave ears over a gas flame to singe these off.