Pha lau is cooked pork organs which may consists of pork ears, heart, liver, tongue, and intestines. For our demo recipe, my little chef and I only use our favorites, pork intestines and ears. It’s one recipe I can proudly say I make it better than my mama.
The Vietnamese pha lau version is cooked with herbal spices. The Chinese pha lau version of cooked pork organs taste more like plain soy sauce to me, very salty.
The first time my little foodie chef got to tried her first bite of pha lau was when she was just 16-months-old with just six teeth. My first attempt was a complete failure and my baby watched me dump the whole pot into the trashcan while she was crying in tears and yelling, “No! No! My pha lau!” My second attempt turned out just perfect. Thank goodness it’s also freezable too so I’ve started freezing small portions for her as a treat every now and then. She likes it more than Nutella.
Prepping time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: about 90+ minutes
Ingredients: to fit a 4-quart pot
3 to 3.5 lb pork intestines
1 or 2 pork ears (optional)
2-3 cans of pure coconut juice (no pulp)
1/2 cup of white cooking wine
1 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp Golden Mountain soy sauce
1 packet of Vietnamese Pha Lau seasoning bag
1 tsp annato seeds
5 star annise
1. If you are just using 2 cans of coconut juice, then add water just enough to cover the organs in the pot.
2. Instead of pure coconut juice, you can substitute the coconut juice wither water and 2-4 Tbsp sugar. I used both ways and my toddler still likes it even though I prefer using the coconut juice better. I recommend using RICO or TAS brand for coconut juice.
3. Instead of Golden Mountain Soy Sauce, I’ve tried Euro Maggi seasoning sauce and Kim Lan Soy Sauce. The results both turned out well. I do NOT recommend using the Kikkoman brand of soy sauce because it is the saltiest of all soy sauce and lacks a significant flavor and also resulted in disliked taste and smell in pha lau.
1. I rinsed the pork intestines three times. Then I soak it in water with 1 Tbsp of kosher salt for 30 minutes. Then I rinsed the intestines one more time. If you never cook with pork intestines before, don’t say I didn’t warned you. It has a queer smell. Most people say it stinks. So cleansing, rinsing, and soaking it with salt along with the use of herbal spices used to cook it help rid the smell.
I rinsed the pork ears one or two times. Cut each ear into two or three chunky pieces if it’s too big.
2. Put the organs and all the other ingredients into a pot.
3. Bring it to a boil on high heat then turn to medium low (number 4 on my Spectra stove). Cook for at least one hour. Don’t cover the pot. And yes, the whole house will smell like pha lau.
Stir the organs every 15 minutes. After one hour, take a bite into the intestine. If it’s not tender enough, continue cooking for another 15 to 30 minutes. I’ve cooked mine from 45 minutes to 90 minutes before. It kinda depends on how thick the organs are I guess. If the water has evaporated or becoming syrupy but the organs are not tender, you may add a little more water and lower the heat setting to continue cooking it.
Important note: Discard the seasoning bag after one hour of cooking it in the pot. Avoid letting the liquid dry out before it is cooked to your tenderness because it will make the pha lau dry or burn it like I did from my first failed attempt.
4. Transfer onto plate for it to cool down before you slice or cut the organs into small pieces.