worried about traditional vietnamese recipe - calls for salted pork to be left outside refrigerator
When it comes to traditional recipes, I'm usually not squeamish if it doesn't mesh with western sensibilities about "safe eating", after all if people from that culture didn't die from eating it why should I?
But this one recipe is kind of scary for me. I'm Vietnamese and my mom was teaching me to prepare this traditional rustic dish that involves leaving pork outside of the refrigerator for weeks! Of course it is cooked first and then submerged the entire time in a salty brine, but still..I'm worried
Basically (without getting into details, SO DON'T USE THIS AS A RECIPE) you choose pork with a thin layer of fat and skin intact, clean it and remove all hair and then boil it, dunking it into cold water once cooked to retain a nice color. Separately on the stove you dissolve sugar in fish sauce in a 1:1 ratio (alongside a bunch of spices such as star anise, ginger, etc.) and wait until cool before pouring over the pork (so it's fully and generously submerged) in a glass jar, and use something to press the meat down and then keep the lid shut airtight. Apparently you're supposed to keep it outside of the fridge for 1-2 weeks for best taste (after which you slice it thinly and serve it in fresh spring rolls). Some people fry it before slicing.
Am I being paranoid or is this dangerous?
I think it will be ok.
In Asian countries, preserved meats/fish are left at room temperature to ferment. In Thailand, we ferment and keep pickled fish at room temperature (ave. 90 degrees). Ingredients like fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind paste and dried shrimp are kept in a pantry. There's lots of preserved and dried meat/fish dishes.
In Thailand, refrigerators as we know them today, were not common until 50 years ago. I remember the wooden ice box that my grandparents had. Somebody would drop off a huge block of ice in the morning. But not everybody had an ice box.
In the distant past "salt meat" was routinely left out on the retailer's counter....right next to the hoop cheese. Neither was ever refrigerated. It (salt meat) was wrapped in a white butcher type paper...that was kinda greasy and gritty from all of the salt. ~~ Customers would buy a pound, half a pound, or more that was cut off the slab in chunks with an old wooden handled butcher knife. Salt meat was used for frying and/or seasoning Southern vegetables etc.~~ That was then, and this is now....Not sure if today's curing process is the same as then or not. ~~ Sounds like your mother was making a form of 'pickled pork' ~~ pork that was stored (in a barrel) in a very salty brine/seasoning for later use. ~~ Today, 'pickle meat" is almost a Must for really good Red Beans & Rice!! ~~ Bottom line... the process is sound....IF you know what you are doing.... Advise you proceed with knowledge and caution.
It's dangerous in the same way that home canning can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.
If your mom never made any for you while you were growing up, I'd be more worried that she forgets a step or misremembers the correct ratios that control the amount of salt used. So, if you remember her making it, then you are probably just paranoid, but if you don't, it might not be a bad idea to consult someone who has made it more recently.
You are basically making pickled pork. Looking at recipes for pickled pigs' feet, these often call for storage in a cool, dry place for several days. If you have time and money, you can make one unrefrigerated batch and one refrigerated and compare.
Keep in mind that salt pork was traditionally used to preserve meat for the winter before refrigeration was invented. So while refrigeration is overall going to be safer, unrefrigerated is not as scary as you might think.
I would refrigerate unless you are very sure that you're doing things properly, though. Proper preservation will depend on the concentration of the salt and sugar in the brine, which could depend on the variety of fish sauce. For something like salt pork, you need a recipe that measures the salt by weight, not by volumes.
What dish are you talking about? Are you talking about nem? If so, then it is safe if handled correctly.
It's a very traditional vietnamese dish -- I personally love it. A lot of westerners are put off because it's raw pork though.
Google 'nem chua' you'll see many recipes for it.... or vietnamese fermented pork rolls.
Edit: nevermind, I didn't realize you cook the pork. What is the dish called?
yup, I know (and love) nem chua but there's a chemical powder you put in that to cure it. this is totally different and has no such curing agent besides the salt from the fish sauce
this dish is called "thit heo ngam nuoc mam". it's sliced and served wrapped in banh trang with rau like goi cuon, often for tet
the recipes online are all different. a few even call for refrigeration! I've convinced my mom to refrigerate hers after all, but she already left it out last night...since it's been very cold I hope it isn't too risky