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Vietnamese Ground Pork in Tomato Sauce

By Suzanne Nuyen

This meat sauce was in the regular rotation for dinners in my childhood. It doesn't use too many ingredients, and lots of ingredients can be swapped out. It cooks all in one pot, so even my father, who didn't cook as often as my mother, could whip it up on a weeknight if everyone was busy. Use canned tomatoes or tomato paste if you don't have fresh ones. If you don't eat pork, use a ground meat of your choice or use a plant-based ground meat alternative. If you don't have scallions on hand, any type of allium will do: onions, shallots, even a leek. We usually served this with crisp slices of cucumber, crunchy lettuce and rice, but it tastes just as good on top of pasta for fun fusion dish.

Makes 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes

1/2 lb ground pork, beef, chicken or crumbled tofu
1/2 t salt
t pepper
1 T minced shallot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T fish sauce or soy sauce
1 T neutral oil
1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 large tomato diced (about 2 cups) or equal amount canned tomatoes
1/2 t chile flakes (optional)
1/4 cup water, vegetable or chicken stock (optional)
1 T tomato paste (optional)
3 scallions, finely chopped (optional)

Put the ground pork in a bowl and with salt, pepper, shallot, garlic and fish sauce.

In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, sweat the onions in the oil and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add diced tomato and the optional flakes. Simmer and let tomatoes break down for about 10 minutes.

Add the pork mixture and stir to break down pork into small pieces. Add a splash of stock and some (optional) tomato paste for a deeper flavor. Simmer for another 10 minutes until pork is fully cooked and the flavors have developed.

Turn off the heat and wilt chopped scallions into the sauce

Serve with rice, over salad, with noodles, etc.


Suzanne is a Vietnamese-American journalist and home cook currently based in Washington D.C. Growing up, cooking was how she bonded with her parents, who are Vietnamese immigrants. She wants to show that Vietnamese food goes beyond Pho or Banh Mi and can be delicious and easy to make at home.