31 August 2011

Ruoc thit heo (shredded pork)

I was a little bit hesitant about sharing this recipe. Not because it wasn’t tasty, but because I think it’s not something for everyone. But after I let my boss have a taste and he liked it, I thought why not. Maybe you get to like it as well.

When we grew up (I have 3 “little” sisters) we were always so exited when mom decided to make this. We love ruoc, either just like that or with bread or rice. My mom always makes it with 4-5 ingredients: pork, garlic, fish sauce, fresh ground pepper and sugar. Although her pork was cooked for a long time it was still very hard to pull apart and that was the part we all hated. It took forever to shred all the pork in itsy bitsy pieces and after a while all our fingers would hurt. Her pork has barely any fat at all and yes, it is almost the best cut of pork you can get, but for my ruoc I like to use less expensive pork with a bit more fat.
I actually use the same cut of pork as for my roast pork recipe. I think it is what you call the leg/ham part of the pig. Basically any cut that has lots of meat and a bit of fat is good.
I started with cutting one onion and about one head of garlic and stir fried that in a bit of oil till it was golden brown. Then all the meat (about 1 kilo, maybe a bit more) went in.
When the meat was no longer red I added about half a cup of fish sauce, 3 cups of water (enough to cover the meat) and had a taste. Of course it is very salty so I added some sugar to balance it out. I’m looking for a salty, sweet marinade. I also added a lot of fresh ground pepper.
Now all I had to do is to wait till everything is cooked through and the meat is almost falling apart. I kept an eye on it so I could scoop out all the foam and once that was done I could sit down and relax.

It took quite some time for the water to reduce down and because at this point the meat was almost falling apart (after about 1-2 hours), I took the meat out and cooked the marinade till there was about 1 cm left on the bottom of the pan. The marinade turned into this sticky thick sauce. This would help to flavor the meat more.

After shredding it in little pieces I put a handful in a plastic colander and used my hand to roll them around inside the colander. This would help to break the meat apart more and to fluff them up a bit. I was too busy doing this that I didn’t take a picture. It took me a couple of batches to get this done.

I put the meat back into the pan with the sauce and mixed everything.

Then it was time to “dry” the meat. It was too much to do it all in one time so I divided it in 2 batches. In a pan (I used a wok) half of the meat went in. I tossed and turned them on medium heat till the meat was golden brown and dry.
This is how it should look like. Now that I looked at it again it kinda looks like sheep’s wool.

We use to bring it back from Vietnam, but since we have no clue what they put in there, it is better to make it ourselves. It takes a bit of time but it takes some time to eat it as well.

I remember seeing this on a bun together with some pate, cuts of meat and picked carrots and daikon root. Maybe you've tried this combo before. 

It was enough for 3 jars and I keep them in the fridge. They will stay good for quite some time, but normally don’t last longer then a couple of weeks; especially since I always give some out to my sisters. They never made it themselves, but of course love to eat it. My sisters will be so happy when they get their own jar this weekend.

I love to eat it with rice, either fresh hot rice or one day old cold rice. I made these balls with old cold rice and rolled them in the ruoc. It was a great snack!


  1. Yummm... meat floss and rice.. yummm.. I love meat floss with bread too, add some jap mayo, jap cucumber and sprinkle some Tobasco. Do try it ok? It's delish I assure you. Cheers, Jo

  2. I dunno....it sounds pretty good! It's very labor intensive and I'm sure worth it when it's done (much like anything I suppose). I can't have fish sauce, but maybe a little bit of soy would work. Thanks for introducing me to a new food!

  3. I've seen this before! You put it on top of rice etc to eat right? Wow this is how you make it! I have seen pre-made ones but I rather want to eat homemade!

  4. We also have something like this here but we use beef, so it's called pulled beef. I've never tried to make it at home because it takes SO long, but I love eating it. We usually sprinkle it on rice or add roasted cashew nuts and eat it as a snack. DEE-LISH!
    PS. You deserve a gold medal for this great effort!

  5. I am so glad you decided to post this, Lilly. So yummy! We call this pork floss and eat it with congee. We still have some in the cupboard but can't remember how long it's been there. I will try to make this when I've mustered enough patience.

  6. @ Jo: sounds like a killer sandwich. I will try it and let you know. Thanks!
    @ Ann: I know that soy is a good substitute for fish sauce, but I don’t know if it works for this dish. I’ve only seen it with fish sauce so far. Next time I’ll try a bit with soy and let you know how it turned out.
    @ Nami: it’s soo good with rice! Even with cold rice and I normally love my food hot.
    @ Maya: I’ve never seen the beef version before. Is it made the same way?
    @ Adora: I didn’t know the English word for it so I just called it shredded pork, but pork floss is a better way to name it. I only know it as ruoc. It’s really not that hard to make and it keeps a while (in the fridge).

  7. Lilly, wow! This looks amazing! I love the addition of fish sauce and I totally agree, a bit of fat in the meat never hurt the flavour!

  8. Mmm, I love shredded pork and yours looks wonderful!

  9. I've always wondered how they made this!! Great post!

  10. Who can resist a good shredded pork? Looks great.


I’m curious by nature so please share whatever is on your mind.