This pork is slightly sweet and a little bit spicy. You can make these caramel pork and rice bowls in the instant pot for a quick and easy meal.
This super flavorful caramel pork takes basically no time at all to cook. Plus I’ll show you how to make the rice in the same instant pot as the meat.
So easy preparation and easy clean up, that ticks all the important boxes! If you like a little bit of heat and Asian flavors, this is a dinner you are going to want to try.
Like Vietnamese caramel pork, only easier
This recipes is based on a Vietnamese dish with some twists that make it really approachable. Plus the ingredients are all really easy to find, even in small town grocery stores.
You start by browning ground pork using the saute function of your instant pot. Ground pork is super affordable and quicker to cook than larger cuts, making it an attractive option.
You could also use ground venison if you would like. The flavors are not unlike the marinade we use to make bul gogi backstrap, but this recipe has more of a spicy kick.
Honestly ground beef or turkey would work as well. Use whatever you happen to have on hand.
Once the meat is most of the way cooked, add the makings of the sauce. A little ginger, garlic and soy sauce bring big flavor punches.
A jalapeno or two bring the heat. You may want to remove the ribs and seeds to dial it down a bit.
Start with just a half of a jalapeno if your heat tolerance isn’t built up. Or if you are like my husband and like to sweat and cry while you eat, toss in two or three.
If anything, start small the first time you make it and add more next time if you are feeling more adventurous. It’s better to wish for a bit more kick than to make something so hot it is inedible.
Making the rice
This may be your favorite takeaway from this recipe. You can cook the rice at the same time as the meat!
Once you have the meat mixture ready to go, put the wire rack that comes with your instant pot right down in there. Now put a pan or pressure cooker friendly bowl on top of the rack.
Add rice and water to the pan and shut the lid. Set the instant pot to high pressure for 8 minutes then do a quick release.
Your rice will the steamed, the meat will be fully cooked and the sauce will be flavorful. It’s a bit like magic!
Finishing the meal
Once you are done pressure cooking, stir some brown sugar into the meat mixture. Adding it sooner risks getting the burn warning, so wait until the end.
The brown sugar provides a nice balance to the dish and helps it live up to its caramel pork namesake. Honey would be a good alternative if you avoid processed sugar.
Now turn the pot back on to saute and cook until the sauce is thick and sticky. It should only take a minute or two.
Serve over your rice. Add scallions or sesame seeds if you would like for garnish.
That makes a pretty impressive weeknight dinner if I do say so myself. It’s also a great base recipe to tinker with and make it your own.
Side dish ideas
Steamed broccoli or sauteed zucchini would be good as well. Or just whip up a simple green salad and call it a day.
If you are looking for more ground pork recipes, check out creamy pork chop suey. It is not at all traditional, but it is comforting and has been a favorite in our family for decades.
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Vietnamese Style Caramel Pork and Rice Bowls in the Instant Pot
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon ginger paste
- ¼ cup minced onion
- 1 to 2 jalapenos diced
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1½ cups rice
- 1½ cups water
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- Optional toppings: fresh lime wedges more jalapenos or chilies, scallions
- Put ground pork in a 6 or 8 quart instant pot. Cook on sauté for a few minutes to render some of the fat.
- Add the garlic, ginger, onions, salt, pepper and jalapenos. Cook until the pork is mostly cooked through.
- Add the soy sauce and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Put a trivet over the pork, then an instant pot friendly pan or container. Put rice and water in the pan that is now over the trivet and the pork.
- Put the lid on the instant pot and set to high pressure for 8 minutes.
- Quick release the pressure and remove the trivet and pan of rice.
- Add brown sugar to the pork mixture, stirring to mix. Turn the instant pot back to sauté and cook until the sugar is coating the pork.
- Serve over rice with your desired topping.