Thit Heo Kho voi Trung (Vietnamese Braised Caramelised Pork with Egg)
Thit Heo Kho voi Trung, or Vietnamese Braised Caramelised Pork with Egg is a classic example of Vietnamese home cooking.
It isn’t a glamourous dish, or even a very complicated dish – but when I think of the warm comfort food my grandma used to make for me and my little brother when we were growing up, this is exactly what I think of. There’s nothing better than smashing open the dark brown hard-boiled eggs onto rice – and spooning the sweet and salty caramelised pork broth over the top. My grandma used to make this dish with exactly 2 eggs – one for my brother, and one for me… so we wouldn’t fight over them! Add to that the tender chunks of slow cooked pork and you’ll see what the fuss is all about.
These days I make the dish with my mum – and I’m sure she’s looking forward to the day when she can make it for her grandchildren too (though not any time too soon Mum!)
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
500 g pork (you can use any cut really, but preferably something with a bit of fat on it. I used pork cutlets, but if you want a richer dish you can even use pork belly!)
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
Juice and flesh of 1 young coconut or 1 cup of packaged coconut juice, plus extra (if you can’t get a fresh coconut, packaged coconut juice is fine)
3-4 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Jasmine rice, to serve
1) Hard-boil and shell the eggs and put aside. Chop the pork into small pieces (approximately 2 cm x 5 cm).
2) To create a caramel sauce, mix the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a low heat. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to caramelise. Once the sugar has turned into a nice brown colour add the pork and onions, turn the heat up, and stir to brown the meat.
3) Add 1 cup of the coconut juice, the fish sauce, and some pepper to taste to the saucepan. The dish is a balancing act of sweet and salt, so taste the broth and add more coconut juice if you prefer a sweeter dish and more fish sauce if you prefer it saltier. You can also add some of the young coconut meat to give it more sweetness (and also because it’s delicious!).
4) Add the hard-boiled eggs to the saucepan and make sure everything is covered with liquid – if it isn’t, add a bit of water (or more coconut juice if you prefer).
5) Let it simmer on a medium low heat. The eggs will absorb the colour and flavour of the coconut and pork as the dish cooks. Simmer for at least half an hour; longer if you’d like your pork to be more tender.
6) Serve with jasmine rice and enjoy!