Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly with Eggs – Thit Kho Trung

Vietnamese braised pork belly with eggs (“thit kho trung”) is a classic homestyle meaty dish served with steamed jasmine rice and steamed vegetables or raw cucumbers to dip into the caramelized sauce.  Mom makes it so good every time with her eyeballing skills while it took me a few years to finally document a pictorial to help me make it consistent like hers. The pork belly should be soft and tender.

Note: I cook this in a non-stick 8-inch deep pan and used a GE Spectra stove.

Prep time: about 15 minutes

Cook time: about 50-60 minutes

Ingredients:

1.8 lb pork belly
6-8 eggs
1 can of Coco Rico (coco soda)
1+ cup water
1/3 cup Viet Huong fish sauce
1/2 – 3/4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp coco caramel
1 tsp oil
black pepper to taste
*minced shallots – optional
*daikon or fresh fried tofu – optional

Directions:

1.  Boil and peel the eggs. Coat the eggs with a bit of coco caramel.  Cut the pork belly into chunky pieces about 1.75 to 2 inches thick. Rub the meat with coco caramel and black pepper.
2.  Prep the ingredients.  Heat up nonstick 8-inch deep sauce pan with oil.  Sear the meat for like about 30 seconds.  I normally add minced shallots in this step with the meat, but forgot to in this pictorial.
2.  Quickly pour in the water, Coco Rico, and then the fish sauce. Make sure the liquid covers the meat completely.  I added 1/2 cup of water.
3.  Wait for the sauce to boil.  Skim off the scum. This took me about 4 minutes.
4.  Cover the sauce pan with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes on heat setting #3. That’s how my thit kho looks after simmering for 30 minutes. The pork belly skin should be medium soft at this time. I also skim off the fatty liquid floating at the top surface. This is also the time I add the eggs into the pan.  If I’m adding daikon or fried tofu, I would put the eggs in earlier and put the daikon or tofu in at this time.)

5.  Since I don’t have daikon or fried tofu to add to my thit kho today, I need to caramelized the thit kho by cranking up the heat to setting #5 and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes or until the sauce caramelizes to my preference.   I wasn’t sure to cover the pan with lid or not, so I just kinda partially cover it.   (Now if I had added daikon or fried tofu, I would only cook it for 10 more minutes because mama said these two ingredients will soak up the liquid quick and will be super salty if I put it in too early or cook it too long.)

6.  I tasted the thit kho the last five minutes and added the sugar at this time.
7.  Transfer to plate and serve with rice.  Enjoy!
Notes: My mom makes different variations of thit kho trung.  She normally add minced shallots too.  She sometimes add chunky pieces of daikon OR the popular fresh fried tofu from Doan’s Restaurant in Garland, Texas. She said not to cook both the daikon and fried tofu together with thit kho because the flavors will clash.  I didn’t listen and learned the hard way.  I’ve been documenting how I cook thit kho many times in hope it will turn out just as good as my mom’s versions but finally just mastered the very basic version.  Here’s just the last two collages of the last two times I have attempted but failed.

I learned never to cook daikon and fried tofu together with thit kho just like my mom told me not to in the first place, just one or the other, or not at all.   At least someone was so excited to volunteer to help me wipe the dining table for the first time. That was the only sweet memory of this attempted pictorial.

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