Vietnamese-Style Caramelized Ground Pork Bowls Recipe


For the Pork:

  • 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored cooking oil (vegetable, canola, peanut)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Bowls:

  • 2 cups cooked jasmine rice
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced or julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned or shredded
  • Quick-pickled vegetables (optional, see notes)
  • Fresh herbs: cilantro, mint, Thai basil
  • Chopped peanuts

For Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce (Optional):

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Thai chili, thinly sliced (optional)


Make the Nuoc Cham (Optional):

  • Combine warm water, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice in a bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  • Add minced garlic and optional chili slices. Let sit for flavors to blend.

Caramelize the Pork:

  • Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened.
  • Add red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Add ground pork and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no pink remains.
  • Stir in brown sugar and fish sauce. Let the mixture sizzle for a minute or two to start caramelizing.
  • Spread the pork in an even layer and let it cook undisturbed for another 2 minutes to develop a deeper caramelization.
  • Stir the pork, spread it out again, and cook for another 2 minutes undisturbed.
  • Season with black pepper and remove from heat.

Assemble the Bowls:

  • Divide cooked rice among serving bowls.
  • Top with caramelized pork, cucumber, carrot, and optional pickled vegetables.
  • Sprinkle with fresh herbs and chopped peanuts.
  • Serve with nuoc cham sauce on the side for dipping.


  • Quick-Pickled Vegetables: Combine thinly sliced radishes, cucumbers, or carrots with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  • Spice Level: Adjust red pepper flakes or add fresh chilies for more heat.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: Substitute crumbled tofu or a plant-based ground meat alternative for the pork. Use a vegan fish sauce substitute.

Enjoy your delicious Vietnamese-style Caramelized Pork Bowls!


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