How to Make Thịt Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork)
Thịt kho or braised pork is my ultimate comfort food! This flavorful, umami-packed, sweet, and savory Vietnamese dish always reminds me of home. It is made with super tender pork, hard boiled eggs, fish sauce, coconut soda, and served over rice. The best Vietnamese dish in my book and definitely a must try recipe!
What is Thịt Kho?
Thịt kho is a Vietnamese dish made up of super tender pork and hard boiled eggs. The pork is braised low and slow and caramelized in coconut soda and fish sauce. It is served with rice which soaks up all the flavorful sauce. Thịt kho is a common dish for an every day home cooked meal and it is also traditionally eaten during Lunar New Year or Tết. Thịt kho originated in South Vietnam but is popular all over the country. If you ask a Vietnamese person what their ultimate comfort food is, a lot of them would say it’s this. At least that would be my answer!
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What Pork to Use?
The ideal cut to use for this dish is pork belly. Make sure to cut it in the direction where each piece gets a layer of skin, fat, and meat. I like mine in bigger 1-2 inch chunks. You can also do thinner slices which will cook faster as well. Alternatively, if you don’t want the dish to be so fatty or prefer leaner meat, you can use pork shoulder. My personal favorite is a combination of both with a 1:4 ratio of pork belly to pork shoulder.
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Different Ways to Cook the Eggs
DEEP FRIED. This dish is traditionally made with hard boiled eggs. However growing up my dad would sometimes take it a step further and deep fry the hard boiled eggs. I remember getting so excited every time he would cook them like that! When fried, the outer layer of the egg becomes golden brown, wrinkly, and crispy. The added texture makes the dish even more addicting!
RAMEN EGG STYLE. Once I got older and moved out, I learned how to make this dish myself to always remind me of home. I also began to experiment with non-traditional methods. I love gooey ramen eggs so instead of the traditional hard boiled eggs, I tried making this with soft boiled eggs. After peeling the eggs, I marinated it in the same sauce used for the pork, and marinated it overnight. The result was a dreamy yolky egg with thit kho flavors seeping though.
Adjust to Your Liking
Thịt kho is a very forgiving dish and hard to mess up. If you braise for too long, it just becomes extra tender. If the sauce reduces too much, just add extra water. Taste test as you go and add more or less of ingredients to your liking. There is always a fix!
SAUCE. I like my sauce on the thicker side and more caramelized so usually simmer longer uncovered. If you like a more watery sauce, don’t simmer as long uncovered or add more water.
SWEETNESS. The coconut soda is the main source of sugar for this dish. If you prefer less sweet, reduce the amount of soda and substitute with water.
SALTY. Fish sauce I think is the key to the umami flavor of this dish. However, I know not everyone is a fan. Chicken bouillon or mushroom seasoning would be the best substitute. Just plain salt works too if you’re in a pinch. If you reduce too much, it can become too salty as well. To fix just add more water and simmer a little more to combine!
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Vietnamese Thịt Kho (Braised Pork Belly)
- 2 lb pork belly
- 1 shallot, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 can coconut soda
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- water as needed
- (optional) green onions
HARD BOILED EGGS
- Boil a pot of water, add eggs to the boiling pot, & hard boil (about 8 minutes).
- Immediately place cooked eggs into an ice water bath to make peeling easier.
- Quickly boil and rinse the pork. This helps to remove the scum and results in a clearer sauce for the dish. You can skip this step but then may need to skim the scum off the sauce as you cook.
BRAISED PORK (THIT KHO)
- Cut pork belly into 2" cubes in the direction where each piece will have a layer of skin, fat, and meat (you can use pork shoulder if you want leaner meat or a combo of both).
- In a pot on low heat, add sugar, caramelize, and brown the pork.
- Add garlic and shallots, cook until softened.
- Add coconut soda, fish sauce, salt, pepper, and enough water to cover the pork.
- Simmer covered for about 1 hour.
- Add in the peeled eggs. Simmer uncovered for ~15 minutes or until sauce reduces to your liking. Rotate the eggs every few minutes.
- Taste test and adjust to your preference (more water if too salty or more fish sauce if needs more salt).
- Serve with rice, green onions, and enjoy!