Vietnamese Quick Braised Pork Belly a.k.a My all-time favorite Vietnamese dish

Cooking Diary – Log 1 – 29/04/2012

Today is Sunday.


Sunday is a beautiful day of the week, because it’s weekend.


Arrg, I wanted to write a splendid intro for today’s post, since it’s weekend and I have plenty of time to think. But well, obviously, I can’t. So I just stick with the reality, no more fancy attempt.

Yesterday, I wrote too much, too long that my head started to hurt. I tried to squeeze every bit of information and memories out of it in order to finish my sequel about Banh Mi; my brain struck. Blogging does require more time and effort than I expected, yet to mention all the schoolwork and a thesis to finish. I have to go light on my brain, at least for next week, for damage recovery and exam reviewing. LOL!

Therefore, today, there will be no more long post, I will stick with my favorite light-cooking recipe. Then I wonder to myself, why not show you guys what us Vietnamese cook daily?  Many of my foreign friends have asked me many times to share some of easy dishes in Vietnamese cuisine. One Vietnamese friend’s boyfriend of mine (note: he is a foreigner, too) tried it and rated it as superb too. Furthermore I can have lunch right after with it, and it’s very quick. Why not?

So what is that wonderful sounded Vietnamese dish?

Vietnamese Quick Braised Pork Belly

I want to share a Vietnamese dish that is so easy to make, yet super tasty, and almost foolproof: my version of (Southern) Vietnamese Quick Braised Pork Belly in Fish Sauce. (Fear not the fishy smell of the Vietnamese traditional fish sauce; it’s perfectly complimented with this dish thanks to the roasted garlic and black pepper)


Ingredients for this Dish

  • 500g of pork belly with skin still on
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp. granulated white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. grounded black pepper (freshly grounded is best)


Step 1: Wash the belly with salty water and dry it with kitchen towel. Slide pork belly into thin rectangular vertically. Like this.

How to slide pork belly

Step 2: Get a clean small bowl and mix fish sauce + sugar + water together. It does not need to be completely dissolved.

Fish sauce Mix

Step 3: Place the slices of pork belly on a small non-stick frying pan like this.

Place your slices on the pan

Step 4: Put the pan onto the stove, turn the heat on high. Without adding any excess oil. Leave the pan there for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, you can see the steam coming out from your pan, like this, that’s totally normal and not a sign of burning.

Steam coming out of the pan: totally normal

Step 5: Now you can starting hearing the fat coming out of the pork belly sizzling on the pan. Let the pan sit on heated stove for 3 more minutes, until the under of the belly slides start to turn golden. Flip all over, like this.

Flip the slice for even browning

Step 6: Wait for 5 more minutes until the other sides turn golden too. Put all the garlic in; give it another stir until the garlic start to be aromatic.

Add chopped garlic

Step 7: Then pour all the fish sauce mixture into the pan.

Add fish sauce mix

Give it a quick and even stir. At first you can see the water in the fish sauce mix boil and evaporate very quickly while the sugar start to caramelize like below.

Right after adding fish sauce mix

Step 8: Wait for 5 more minutes or more with flipping the pork belly from side to side for even browning, until you achieve this: golden brown shiny slices of pork belly slices. The water should almost all evaporated, just a little sauce left, enough to coat the outside of every slices.

And after 5 minutes of stiring and fliping

Step 9: Sprinkle grounded black pepper on top. You can now enjoy the most wonderful aroma in Vietnamese cuisine: the mixed heaven in your nose of roasted garlic, caramelized sugar, freshly grounded black pepper, and fish sauce.

Try a slice now. Chew. Uhhhmmm. I know! Hey, let’s resist trying another, because if you continue, who knows if there is anything left for real serving, LOL.

Step 10: Serve warm with cooked white rice. And dig in! Challenge your chopstick handling skill!

Vietnamese Quick Braised Pork Belly

O.M.G, perfect combination of savory, sweet, aromatic, chewy, everything in this dish! Uhhmm, one more bites. Uhhhmm. Can’t stop! Uhmmm.

Vietnamese Quick Braised Pork Belly

Happy Sunday.


28 thoughts on “Vietnamese Quick Braised Pork Belly a.k.a My all-time favorite Vietnamese dish

  1. This was soo good! Eating at my local Vietnamese restaurant is just too expensive but you made it simple and so affordable. I loved the sweet, salty, caramel sauce….thank you for posting this!


  2. I tried this tonight after trying desperately to find a quick cooking recipe for the pork belly. This recipe was so tasty, I ate it with some Chinese cabbage and carrot salad mix and it went well together. I didn’t taste any fish in my pork and I have the same fish sauce brand as you. Even better. I especially loved that caramely bit to it. I think next time I’ll try your ide of slightly boiling the skin next time before the full cook to see if it crisps up the skin a little more.


  3. Just made this… Smell really not nice, roomie almost threw up. But I decided to try it anyways, could eat just few pieces because all you can feel is that smell of fish sauce. And garlic. And it’s sweet. It’s just too much for my taste buds. Dont think I will make it ever again!


    • Hi there,

      Sorry to hear that this dish didn’t suit your taste. Fish sauce is a distinct Vietnamese ingredient, and to some foreigners, it might come off as too strong. My dish is Southern influenced so a little abuse of sweetness is very noticeable.

      We do have other options that are more neutral in taste such as Pho (too famous I guess), spring rolls, summer rolls, etc. Just hope that after this one minor incident, you wouldn’t give up totally on Vietnamese cuisine. I may be biased, but it is truly an interesting food culture if you managed to get past the intimidating smell of fish sauce.



      • Maybe it’s just this particular brand of fish sauce (I got exactly the same pictured above). Just too….ermm…fishy 🙂 Been using different one before which was much milder. Pork, chicken, beef, stews, soups.. I used it everywhere 🙂 but this one is just yuck.
        Anyways, I’m not giving up on Asian cuisine completely, there’s too much stuff I didn’t tried yet 😜


  4. Hi Rose,

    this is really a wonderful easy to make dish but my mother in law (she is 78 years old) says the skin a bit hard, how can i make the skin softer ?


    • Hi Sl,

      This really depends on the pig that was picked for your dish. Well, that’s way out of our control, isn’t it?

      But, you can try this. You can precook the skin by submerge it into shallow boiling water of no higher than the fat itself, keep cooking it over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until you can poke a fork easily through it.

      Let me know how that works out. 🙂

      Until next time,



  5. Cooked this for dinner tonight. Absolutely delicious over ramen noodles with homemade broth! Probably not how you’re supposed to eat it but two students are full and happy here in Ireland. ❤ Thanks. :DDD


    • Hi Merlin,

      2 full students are sure 2 happy students. I am pleased to be of help.

      We Vietnamese eat these with white rice, but ramen with homemade broth sounds intriguing, though a bit strange to my ears to tell the truth. I definitely have to try that sometimes. 😉

      Until next time,


      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re right – this is world class flavor & texture. I’m going to experiment adapting it for larger pieces since it’s hard to get a meal for company out of the thin slices… maybe 1″ chunks, sear ‘em up in a large cast iron skillet and put the pan in the oven? I’m sure there’s a way, and thanks for sharing!


  7. One of my advanced foods students is an exchange student from Vietnam. She is going to prepare this dish for us! I will let you know how it goes. Thanks!


  8. Hi Rose , do you know that in Westhern Vietnam we have another way to do this food ? My mom has a serect for that ,and I just do the same way as she does . I will tell you later


      • thanks for your kind words . How did you know my name ? . Have we met before ? . Hopefully , my recipes would keep you like my food because there are several ways to do for your taste . I’ll write them soon ,honey .


        • Hi chi Tran,

          No, unfortunately, we have not met before. I was wandering around when I found your blog. 🙂 And I am glad that I did. I know your name is Tran because you introduce yourself in some comment you made in other posts of mine. 😉

          I am looking forward for the recipe.



          • yeah , you reminded me that I introduced myself when I stopped by your blog . I appreciated being my friend . Next week ,I have free time a few weeks so that I can write something else . Have a wonderful weekend.


  9. I found your blog following links from a page where you posted your Banh mi recipe. I’m glad I found it. I look forward to trying this recipe.


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