This Cincaluk Pork Stir Fry is one dish not easily found at the restaurants. It is deliciously fragrant, tangy, and appetizing. A must try!
Cincaluk Pork Stir Fry is a truly Nyonya (Straits Chinese) dish combining pork, lemongrass, chilies, tamarind, and cincaluk, a Southeast Asian ingredient. All these wonderful ingredients comes together to make this amazingly tasty dish with all the right notes – spicy, tangy, and full of umami flavor.
Cincaluk (Fermented Small Shrimps)
It is a relatively quick and easy dish to prepare but you do need to have the right ingredients. If you are living outside of Malaysia and Singapore, the good news is that many Asian grocery stores do carry lemongrass and tamarind concentrate. The only challenge is finding cincaluk.
Fortunately for me, they started appearing on the shelves of a few Asian markets here in Minneapolis. If it is unavailable in your area, the closest substitute I can think of is saeujeot (Korean salted fermented shrimps) which uses basically the same ingredients. I use saeujeot in making kimchi and will try using it in this dish one day.
In case you are wondering, tamarind concentrate is actually asam jawa extract. Over here, fresh asam jawa is not as easily available and so I use tamarind concentrate that comes in plastic containers. If you prefer to use asam jawa, please see the notes in the recipe below.
Pork Belly or Sirloin
Pork belly is the recommended cut of meat in this dish but I prefer the leaner boneless sirloin chops. If you are using pork belly, you may want to cut it into thin slices. For sirloin, I think thin strips work better.
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- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 8 to 10 shallots (thinly sliced)
- 1 lemongrass (bottom 3 inches only cut into thin slices)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 red chilies (seeded and cut into pieces)
- ½ cup cincaluk (fermented small shrimps) (130g)
- 1 lb boneless sirloin pork (cut into strips) (450g)
- 2 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp asam jawa / tamarind concentrate**
- ½ cup water (120ml)
- 2 green onions (thinly sliced)
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large fry pan. Add shallots and stir fry until light golden brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove fried shallots but leave oil in the wok. Set aside.
- Add lemongrass, garlic, and chilies. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Then add cincaluk and continue to stir fry for 2 minutes.
- Add pork, sugar, ground pepper, and tamarind concentrate. Stir fry to get the pork coated with the cincaluk.
- Pour in water and continue to stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce thickens. Turn off stove.
- Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with fried shallots and green onions.
- Serve immediately with steamed rice.
Cincaluk Pork Stir Fry is best eaten with steamed rice. Make sure to cook extra rice so that you can go back for a second helping.