If there was a dish that was popular with Vietnamese people but largely unknown to the rest of the world, it would be Thit Heo Kho. It is basically braised pork belly and eggs in a caramel sauce which is traditionally served with white jasmine rice. It is a very simple peasant dish but packs some serious flavour and comfort.
This dish was a staple in my family growing up. I would come home from school and before I entered the house I could tell mum had Thit Heo Kho on the stove. The strong aroma of fish sauce, onions and garlic was second nature to me. However, in those days, fish sauce hadn’t quite hit the scene in Australia. On the unfortunate occasions when I had my Aussie mates over and Thit Heo Kho was on the menu, their faces would scrunch up as if a skunk had exploded. This is probably why you are unlikely to see this on the menu at many Vietnamese restaurants.
Today, I often cook this dish for my family. I have tried many versions of this dish and not one hits the mark like my mothers Thit Heo Kho. Even when I use the exact same recipe and method, Steph will confirm my mothers is better. I try to tell myself the next one will be the one that releases me from this curse, but the months have turned to years and I now question whether mums really is better or if Steph needs to visit the confession box! Either way, there is no denying that mums version tastes absolutely fantastic.
Vietnamese Braised Pork - Thit Heo Kho
- 1 kg of pork rashers / belly / shoulder
- Water for par boiling
- 2 tablespoons of raw sugar
- 800 ml of 100% natural coconut juice
- 90 ml of fish sauce
- 1 medium brown onion halved
- 4 flattened cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder (optional)
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 eggs
- Chop pork into 3 – 4 cm slices.
- Boil water in a pot and par boil the pork slices for 10 mins. Afterwards, wash the pork slices under a tap and remove any scum.
- Add the sugar to a cold pot and gently heat on a medium temperature.
- Once the sugar is a deep amber colour, add the pork slices and stir through.
- Once all of the pork is covered in caramel, add the coconut water, fish sauce, onion, garlic, chicken bouillon powder and pepper.
- Hard boil the eggs for 10 mins. When done, peel and add to the pot.
- Let the pot simmer uncovered on a low setting for 2 hours, stirring roughly every 30 mins.
- Remove the onion pieces and garlic.
- Do not add sugar to a pot that has been sitting on a hot stove. The sugar may caramelise to quickly and burn.
- If you want an even caramel colouring on the eggs, then turn them in the pot every half hour.