Thit Kho Tau (or Thịt Kho for short) is Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly simmered in a savory caramel sauce. It's such a comforting dish for me. Pork belly is stewed in a caramelized, coconutty braise flavored with fish sauce until it's melt-in-your-mouth tender. I often long for this dish but surprisingly, Thit Kho Tau is absent from many Vietnamese restaurant menus in town. It's such a staple in Vietnam, especially on Lunar New Year. If you ask me, I would put it right up there with Pho.
Variations of Thit Kho Tau
Every Vietnamese family has their own Thit Kho recipe. For the most part, the ingredients are similar. The biggest differences come in the thickness of the sauce. I've seen it range from super thick, almost a molasses-like consistency, to a thin soup-like version, and just about every consistency in between.
My family (of Vietnamese-Teochew descent) leans towards a soup-like consistency. The pork isn’t coated with a thick, heavy glaze that's often too salty and overly flavored for my taste. Instead it's swimming in a perfectly balanced sweet and savory broth.
The recipe I'm sharing with you is actually called Thit Kho Trung, which translates to Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly with the addition of eggs.
Which Cuts of Pork Can Be Used for Thit Kho Tau?
Pork belly with the skin on is the best cut of pork and also what's traditionally used for Thit Kho Tau. Every layer (skin, fat, meat) offers a little something to the mix. If you're not a fan of pork belly or if it's difficult to find with the skin on, pork spare ribs would work as well. If you prefer something even more lean, pork shoulder would be okay.
How to Make Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly
Begin by cleaning the pork belly. In a medium-sized pot, add pork belly and fill with water until the pork is fully submerged. Bring the pot to a boil and allow it to boil for a few minutes. You'll notice foam and/or impurities rise to the surface. Drain the pork belly and give the pot and meat a good rinse. This process draws out impurities and results in a clear broth. Return the pork belly to the cleaned pot.
Next, we make the caramel sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add sugar and water and leave it untouched until the sugar melts completely. At this point, you can begin stirring occasionally and allow the mixture to simmer as it caramelizes. Once the sugar reaches an amber color, remove from the heat. The caramel sauce will continue to darken so it's better to turn off the heat before it gets too dark.
Pour the caramel sauce into the pot and mix to coat the pork belly. Add hard boiled eggs, coconut water, fish sauce, garlic and enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for one hour. The pork belly should be ¾ submerged in liquid at this point. If it's not, add more water. Add scallions and simmer for another 30 minutes to 1 hour until the pork belly is tender. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper.
We hope you enjoy our Vietnamese Pork Belly with Eggs recipe (Thit Kho recipe) as much as we do!
- 2 lbs pork belly, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4-6 hard boiled eggs, shells removed
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup coconut water
- 5-7 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 stalks scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
- Add pork belly to a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow it to boil for a few minutes. Drain the pork belly and rinse the pot and the meat well to remove the impurities. Return the pork belly to the cleaned pot.
- In a small saucepan, add sugar and water. Without stirring, allow the sugar to melt over medium heat. Once the sugar has completely melted, begin stirring occasionally and allow the mixture to simmer until it caramelizes into an amber color. Remove from heat immediately and add the caramel sauce to the pot with the pork belly. Mix well until the pork is covered in sauce.
- Add hard boiled eggs, coconut water, fish sauce and garlic, with just enough water to cover the pork belly.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for 1 hour.
- At this point, the pork belly should be about ¾ covered in liquid. If there's not enough, add more water. Add in the scallions and simmer for another 30-60 minutes, until the pork belly is soft and tender.
- Serve with freshly cracked pepper.