In this post, you are going to learn all about Vietnamese shredded pork skin, what it is, recipes you can use it in, and why it's so popular in southeast Asia as an ingredient!
Shredded pork skin is known as bi in Vietnamese. It is in a lot of different Vietnamese dishes, which provides a level of texture and flavor to the dish. The most common dish you'll find with bi is called Vietnamese Bun Bi. This dish incorporates rice noodles with bun bi and roasted rice powder.
What is Shredded Pork Skin
Shredded pork skin is made from the layer of pig skin. It is thinly shredded into very even, jagged slices. Shredded pork skin provides a chewy texture to the meal that it accompanies. As a compliment to it's texture, roasted rice powder is often added to the dish.
Different Names for Shredded Pork Skin
Due to translation, you'll see different recipes refer to shredded pork skin by various monikers. Below are the various ways that you may see shredded pork skin mentioend:
- Bi Heo
- Bi Heo Tuoi
- Shredded Pork Skin
- Cooked Pork Skin Sliced
- Sliced Pork Skin, Cooked
- Pork Skin Noodles
What Does Shredded Pork Skin Taste Like?
Shredded pork skin has a chewy texture and is fairly bland. When the shredded pork skin is combined roasted rice powder with a marinated pork in most Vietnamese cuisines, it provides an even balance of taste and texture.
When I make this in my home (especially Bun Bi), this dish is pretty much gone in a second! Everyone LOVES snacking on this chewy, noodle-like ingredient - especially when roasted rice powder lightly coats it along with marinated pork. It's divine.
What does Shredded Pork Skin Look like?
In most Vietnamese restaurants, the most common dish that is ordered is generally the broken rice platter that incorporates what looks like a large pile of translucent noodles.
These "noodles" are actually thinly shredded pork skin that is usually coated with roasted rice powder.
Is Shredded Pork Skin Healthy?
Shredded pork skin is keto friendly and a great substitute for carb heavy noodles. It is also low in calorie. Shredded pork has 30 calories for every 1 ounce serving size.
Where to Find Shredded Pork Skin
Shredded pork skin is generally prepackaged in the refrigerated or frozen section of most local Asian supermarkets. There are generally two varieties: dehydrated and frozen. My recommendation is to stick with the frozen variety.
Can you make shredded pork skin yourself?
Yes, but it's difficult to get it as thin as the commercially available products. Shredded pork skin can be made at home by purchasing a slab of pork belly (this can easily be found at your local Asian supermarket). You'll also need a VERY steady hand to cut the pork skin into thin strips and avoiding the fatty part of the pork belly.
The difference between homemade and commercially available pork skin is that the commercially available ones will cut the pork skin really thin, and since they use machines to cut them, there are jagged edges, which adds to the texture of the dish.
The problem you'll run into making your own shredded pork skin is slicing it as thin as the ones you find at the market, even with the sharpest of knives.
Brands of Vietnamese Bi to Get
Generally, the brands below are the ones most often seen at your local Asian supermarket. The distributor is Tay Ho Food Corporation. Often, it will will have have the words "Cooked Pork Skin Sliced" on the packaging.
The green packaging is the 8 ounce variety, and is enough if you are making a dish for two people.
If you are making a batch of egg rolls or a large noodle dish to feed about six people, the 1 pound bag may be enough for you.
If you are wanting to throw a large party and feed a guest list of over 30 people, you may want to opt for the 5 pound option (that's a lot of shredded pork skin).
Preparing Shredded Pork Skin for Cooking
Cleaning Pork Skin Noodles
First, dethaw the frozen pork skin in the refrigerator. Once thawed, you can take the shredded pork skin out of the package, and you may notice that it has a very distinct and potentially pungent smell.
Use a coriander to rinse and drain the pork skin with cold water. Add a little salt to soak up the moisture.
In order to dry the shredded pork skin, use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Next, pat the shredded pork skin with a clean towel to dry the remaining amount of water left.
At this point, you can continue on with your recipe. If it's a Vietnamese recipe, it generally calls for roasted rice powder to coat the shredded pork skin.
Tips for Using Shredded Pork Skin for Cooking
Before adding any seasoning, the pork skin needs to be thoroughly dry before combining with the rice powder. If it is not, it will clump the pork skin into a tangled mess.
How Long does Shredded Pork skin Last?
As long as it is not thawed, shredded pork skin that is still in the package has a lengthy longevity in the freezer to up to one year.
Dishes That Use Shredded Pork
There are so many amazing Vietnamese dishes that use shredded pork as an ingredient. This includes:
- Vietnamese meatloaf
- Vietnamese Bun Bi
- Vietnamese Banh Mi (the best Vietnamese sandwich)
- Vietnamese Spring Rolls (although my version doesn't include it, you still can)
- Vietnamese Egg Rolls (although my version doesn't include it, you still can)
- Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops
- Chai Bi
The most common way to use shredded pork bi is to toss it in with roasted rice powder, add marinated grilled pork with broken rice. This makes an amazingly delish Vietnamese plate that you will devour faster than you can say "shredded pork skin."
Nuoc Mam sauce is often used as a dressing over a dish that incorporates Vietnamese bi.
thinly sliced pork skin is generally marinated with pork meat and mixed with toasted rice powder to make a dish level up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shredded Pork Skin
Do you need to cook shredded pork skin?
If you have purchased any of the packages above, you will not need to cook the pork skin because it's already been cooked. All you need to do is dethaw and incorporate it into your dish.
If the restaurant portions of your favorite Vietnamese dish is not enough, now you have the secret ingredient for some of the more popular dishes to make those dishes at home. Shredded pork skin should definitely be added to your catalog of ingredients to try in other dishes (maybe even in place of noodles).
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