This is what home tastes like. Every Asian household has a special caramelized pork recipe, and this is what I grew up with: Thit Kho, pork belly lovingly braised in coconut water. This dish is best enjoyed with copious amounts of rice, and trust me, just one whiff of this fragrant dish and you’ll be scooping for more.
This is definitely a time-consuming dish (mainly from skimming all the constant scum away). I haven’t yet tried making this dish in an instant pot, but it’ll come soon! I do fear that the sauce won’t be as clear and pure if I do it the instant pot route, though.
Here’s a few tips for that perfect pot of Thịt Kho
- Use fresh coconut if possible! This will yield the most pure coconut taste, that is nearly impossible to achieve with canned. However, if you’re limited – canned is fine (just add more sugar), or Coco Rico is a super popular replacement for those that live in the US (also found at Nations/Ocean supermarket in Toronto).
- Parboiling the pork ahead of the braise is an essential step to get rid of impurities
- This recipe is a base for many caramel seared, braised protein dishes. For the protein, you don’t need to use pork belly! Any cut of pork works well. You can use pork side ribs, or switch out pork completely for beef or chicken.
- The best part of this dish to me, is the combination of hardboiled egg and sweet sauce over rice. Make that sauce stretch by adding more liquid to start with!
- Like many other braised dishes, this tastes even better the next day. Watch those eggs become even more infused, and the sauce will become even richer.
Recipe: Thịt Kho Trứng (Caramelized Pork with Eggs)
Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Preparation time: 30 minutes
1 tbsp Neutral Oil
2 lb Pork Belly
1 tbsp Shallot
1 tbsp Garlic
1 tbsp Chicken Powder
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tbsp Granulated Sugar
½1 tbsp Neutral Oil, 2 tbsp Granulated Sugar
2½ cups Coconut Water
3½ cups Water
1 Thai Birds Eye Chili, thinly sliced (Optional)
- Cut pork belly into 4x4cm cubes (or smaller, if preferred). Rub pork belly with ½ tablespoon of salt, rub and soak in water for 5 minutes to remove impurities.
- Bring a 1L pot to boil, fill with enough water to submerge pork belly. On medium heat, cook pork just until impurities float to the surface (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat immediately, drain and run pork under cold water for 30 seconds.
- Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add pork, mix well and allow to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Add eggs to a pot, and fill with water until eggs are submerged. On high heat, boil eggs. Once water boils, time 8 minutes, then remove from heat and run under cold water for 2 minutes. Peel eggs.
- Heat a shallow wok or pot on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once oil shimmers, add granulated sugar. Stir with chopsticks to combine oil and sugar. Keep a close eye on the caramel to ensure it doesn’t burn, the colour will turn to caramel, and darken, then it will bubble to white, then it will smoke (video for reference). As soon as it begins to smoke slightly, immediately add the marinated pork. Sear all sides of pork for 3 minutes, caramelizing all sides.
- Add coconut water to submerge the pork. Allow to braise on medium heat for one hour. Ensure that it does not boil and stays at a simmer. Rotate pork belly and skim the scum to ensure a clear sauce. Liquid level will decrease by 50-75%.
- Add peeled eggs to braise. Add water to bring back water level and allow to cook for 30 minutes on medium heat. Rotate eggs every 10 minutes to ensure even colouration. In the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add sliced chili & fish sauce to taste.