A dish especially favoured in the North, its name comes from its appearance after having been cooked dry.
It is often served for breakfast in rice soup or with a bowl of rice for dinner, and is delightful in a sandwich of French bread with cucumbers, coriander (Chinese parsley), pickled carrots, or any one of those and a scallion, sprinkled with thin soy sauce.
1 pound lean, boneless pork loin, in 1 chunk
5 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam)
Slice the meat 3/4 inch thick and then into pieces 3 inches wide. Place in a small saucepan, along with the fish sauce. Cover and simmer for 10 miutes to make certain it is well cooked.
When cooked, put a few pieces at a time into a mortar and pound with a pestle until completely crushed and stringy. (If your have a large mortar, you can do about 3 pieces at a time. It cannot be done in a food processor, as the meat must remain stringy.) As each piece of meat is crushed, it should be pulled apart with the fingers.
After all the meat is shredded, transfer it to a dry frying pan over low eat, and with a wooden spoon keep pressing it down and spreading it about. Continue doing this until the meat is copletely dry. When you hear no sizzling sound coming from the frying pan, you know that the meat is ready. Serve as suggested above.
Cotton Meat will keap in a refrigerated jar for serveral weeks.
Recipe taken from the classic cuisine of Vietnam by Bach Ngo & Gloria Zemmerman published by Barron's Educational Series. Inc.