This Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Bowls recipe is absolutely amazing! It tastes delicious, is so easy to make, quick, and affordable! This stir-fried pork mince is the perfect dinner meal for any weeknight! You can serve this as a main dish or an appetizer.
Vietnamese Caramelized Pork is a great stir fry minced pork recipe that you should try.
It's so flavorful and can be done at your dinner table in less than 30 minutes. It's definitely tastier and faster than any Asian take-out.
About This Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Bowls
The ground pork is stir-fried and cooked perfectly in a homemade Asian sauce.
The sauce has the perfect balance of sweetness, saltiness, and tanginess, and with the right amount of heat!
The caramelized sauce really makes the meat tender and flavorful. So yummy!
Easy Ground Pork Recipe
Minced pork is an affordable protein choice. It's tasty and versatile. It also takes a little time to cook.
This stir-fried minced pork has a very mild spicy level. Feel free to skip the red chili to make it becomes less spicy and more kid-friendly so that everyone leaving the dinner table is happy.
This was inspired by the popular minced pork noodles recipe, also this Thai larb chicken, and my favorite chef, Gordon Ramsay.
Now let's talk about the ingredients, preparation, and cooking process.
Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Bowls Ingredients:
Pork mince is ground meat that is usually made from pork shoulder, aka pork butt or Boston butt.
Unlike ground beef, pork mince is usually sold pre-packaged or in bulk without the fat and will often show the lean fat percentage content amount.
This recipe works well with pork mince or a combination of pork mince and ground beef.
And, if you are not a big fan of pork mince, feel free to use ground beef, chicken, or turkey as a replacement ingredient.
Vietnamese Stir Fry Sauce
To make the sauce, you need the following ingredients:
- fresh garlic
- Vietnamese fish sauce
- brown sugar
- salt and pepper
- red Jalapeno or Serrano or any red chilies
- lime zest, and lime juice.
This recipe requires simple preparation. It involves chopping and zesting only! Basically, you need to mince the garlic and ginger, slice the shallots and the red chilies, then zest the lime.
Vietnamese Fish Sauce:
Fish sauce is a liquid condiment made from fish, such as anchovy extract that has been coated in salt and sugar, and naturally fermented for up to two years.
It is used as a staple seasoning in East and Southeast Asian cuisine.
Please note that not all fish sauce products/brands are created equal and they usually have different sodium levels (ex: Thai fish sauce has a lower sodium content than Vietnamese fish sauce).
To add saltiness to the dish, just add a small amount of salt. Do not go overboard with fish sauce or all you’ll taste is fish sauce.
Cooking Vietnamese Caramelized Pork
And now for the cooking part!
This recipe requires two-step cooking but it can be done in one skillet and doesn't require any cooking skills.
The only important rule of this recipe is to cook the meat in the sauce on high heat. So be sure to prepare all of the ingredients and put them near you.
Here are some important cooking steps to follow to make this flavorful Asian meat dish:
Step 1. Brown the Meat
Brown the ground pork and remove the excess fat and liquid (if any) to make it more "lean", and less greasy, and keep the meat 🥩 staying crispy after cooking. Afterward, set it aside.
Please note that at this point, you only need to brown the pork, don't worry about getting the meat crisp because we are going to do that in the next step.
Step 2. Stir Fry and Caramelize the Ground Pork
Cook the aromatic vegetables until fragrant then put the browned pork back. Add the sauce and cook the pork until crispy and caramelized!
Lastly, about 30 seconds before the cooking process is finished, add the lime zest, scallion, and lime juice.
FAQ and Cooking Tips:
If you want to serve this as an appetizer, choose lettuce, cucumber, and some pickled vegetables. Or, serve it as a main dish with some brown or white rice, fried egg, and/or Korean spinach salad.
It's mild. If you are worried, use red bell pepper instead of red chili pepper or skip.
Put the leftover in an airtight container. Properly stored, it can last 3-4 days in the fridge or 2-3 months in the freezer.
Check Out More Tasty Asian Recipes:
- Vietnamese Pork Chops
- Easy Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill (Cha Ca)
- Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Stir Fry
- Minced Pork Noodles with Hoisin Sauce
- Twice-Cooked Pork Belly
- Chicken in Black Bean Sauce
- Spicy Sichuan Noodles
- Sweet and Sour Fish
- Hunan Beef with Cumin
- Instant Pot Mongolian Beef
- Singapore Noodles
- General Tso's Chicken
- Best Pork Tenderloin Stir Fry
- Sesame Noodles (Ma Jiang Mian)
I hope you'll enjoy this recipe and share it with friends! If you try it and don’t mind, please leave me a comment and/or give this recipe a rating.
Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Bowls
- 1 pound pork mince, (ground pork)
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil , (divided) - such as canola, vegetable, or peanut oil.
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 large fresh red chili pepper, (such as Jalapeno or Serrano) seeded and diced
- ½ cup thinly sliced shallots, (lightly packed)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar, (or add more for a sweeter taste and according to your liking)
- 2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
- zest from 1 lime
- ⅛ lime, (freshly squeezed) - use more according to your liking and more for serving
- 3 scallions, (white and green parts - thinly sliced)
- salt and black pepper, (to taste)
- Heat 1½ tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add pork and cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper then cook for 4 minutes or until brown. Transfer the pork to a colander to remove the excess liquid and fat. Drain and set aside.
- Heat 1½ tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add shallots, cook for 1 minute, then add ginger and chili and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook for about 15 seconds. Keep stirring.
- Add the browned pork back into the pot and stir. Add fish sauce and brown sugar. Stir then let it cook undisturbed to caramelize for about 1 minute. Stir again for a few seconds and let it cook undisturbed for another 1 minute. Gently scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. Repeat this process if necessary or until you reach the desired consistency or crispiness. The pork meat should turn golden brown with caramelized flavors. Do not overcook to prevent burnt taste and dry meat. Add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Add chopped scallions, lime zest, and lime juice. Give it a quick stir for a few seconds, then turn off the heat. Serve with white rice or lettuce and more lime juice if desired. Enjoy!
- Step #1 is crucial, do not skip it.
- The Nutrition is for the caramelized minced pork only. It doesn't include white rice or lettuce.
- Other Meat Besides Pork: ground beef, turkey, or chicken.
- Lime. You can replace lime with lemon if that's the only thing you have available.
- Shallots. You can also use red onions but must cook them a bit longer until soft and translucent.
- Garlic and ginger. If you love garlic and ginger, feel free to double the amount.
- Vietnamese Fish Sauce: I used Viet Huong Fish Sauce (also known as Three Crabs Fish Sauce). You can find them at Target, Ralph's, or any Asian grocers for around $4-$6 per big bottle. Alternatively, you can use Thai fish sauce. Please note that not all fish sauce products/brands are created equal and they usually have different sodium levels (ex: Thai fish sauce has a lower sodium content than Vietnamese fish sauce). To add saltiness to the dish, just add a small amount of salt. Do not go overboard with fish sauce or all you’ll taste is fish sauce.
- Fresh chili pepper. If you are worried about the spicy level, use red bell pepper instead of red chili pepper or skip it. If you can't find red jalapeno or red serrano pepper, you can use 1-2 small pieces of Thai chili peppers or more as a replacement ingredient.
- If you want to serve this as an appetizer, choose lettuce, cucumber, and some pickled vegetables. Or, serve it as a main dish with some brown or white rice, noodles, fried egg, and/or Korean spinach salad.
Made this tonight. Very good, but I think that you could advise that the recipe should be made in a non-stick skillet. Most of the sauce burned to the bottom of the pan.
Thank you very much for your suggestion and feedback. I just added the info on the recipe card! I am sure that readers will find your comment really useful!
I made this tonight. Not a fan of fresh chili, so I substituted diced red bell pepper as suggested and just a shaking of chili powder. I didn't have any lime so added lemon grass puree with the ginger and some lemon juice at the end. I think I forgot the garlic and who knows what type of fish sauce I used, but it tastes fabulous anyway. Definitely making this again.
Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and what you did. I am sure that other readers will find your comment useful.
I am glad that this Vietnamese Caramelized Pork bowl recipe turned out well for you.
This recipe is the bomb, I’ve made it several times. And this is just for my own personal notes for next time….I’ll use up the palm sugar that I have in my cupboard instead of brown sugar and I’ll also add soy when adding the fish sauce and sugar. I also top it with cooked peanuts. Just amazing exactly how the recipe is listed.
Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. I am glad that you liked it. Palm sugar is a staple ingredient in my mom's kitchen. It's actually the primary sweetener that she uses in almost every recipe. I think palm sugar would make a nice addition to this pork bowls recipe too.
I am sure that the cooked peanuts will add a nice crunch and texture to the dish. I love peanuts so I know that I am going to enjoy them as a topping.
Have A Good Day
Have a good day to you, Laurie! Thanks for reviewing this recipe, I am glad that you liked it.
I made substitutions with what I had on hand - powdered ginger instead of fresh and 2 Thai chilies instead of one large pepper. So hot but so good!
Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and what you did. I love Thai chilies and am pretty sure that they are spicier than Jalapeno :). My fave!
I followed the ingredients recipe to a "T", but I had a different Vietnamese fish sauce, and I had a red jalapeño on my plant so used that. I let caramelized over 4 minutes, stirring once every minute like suggested to let it get crispy. Served it with a Boston Lettuce leaf, topped by 1/2 cup of cooked white jasmine rice. Put the caramelized pork mixture on top. WOW! was it good! Can't wait to make it again and I sent it to three friends who I know will love it too.Thank you for posting this recipe.
You're welcome. Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and spread the word about this recipe. I really appreciate it 🙂
I had found a very similar recipe on another site but the addition of the lime juice gives this recipe the edge. Very tasty, Very simple. I added raw diced carrots steeped in a vinegar/sugar sauce as a side pickle.
Thanks for sharing your honest feedback! I am glad that you came across this pork bowls recipe and liked it 🙂
My picky husband loved this dish!! I ended up using Jimmy Dean sausage since the store didn't have regular ground pork. I also added bok choy and red bell pepper. Thank you!!!!
I am glad that you and your picky husband loved this dish. Thanks for trying and sharing your feedback.
This is excellent. I’m making it again for a friend. I thought it might be a little sticky sweet but it is not at all. It has a good blend of hot and spicy and garlicky. Thank you for the recipe.
Thanks for giving this recipe a try! I am glad that you liked it and I hope your friend will love it too.
Michelle L'Heureux Dearborn
The flavors went well with exception of the oil. I used canola but it made this dish taste too heavy. I know you want an oil to fry on high heat so I'll try peanut oil next time in hopes it improves flavor.
Thank you for the recipe.
You're very welcome. I hope the taste will get even better with peanut oil. Let us know!