Vietnamese caramelized and braised pork belly with eggs, or Thit Kho Tau, is a traditional everyday Vietnamese dish. It consists of large chunks of pork belly and boiled eggs slowly braised in coconut juice. Thit Kho Tau is typically eaten with rice and pickled bean sprouts (Dua Gia) to cut through the fat.
Although Thit Kho Tau is a typical Vietnamese home cooked dish, it’s also served as one of the traditional foods during the Lunar New Year (Tet). Before serving, it is offered to the deceased ancestors on the family altar.
The star of the dish is obviously the pork belly. It’s ridiculously tender while the fatty skin melts in your mouth. If you can get your hands on pork belly with bones, it’s even tastier. Others, particularly kids, love the eggs in the dish. Duck eggs are used widely in Vietnam for a richer flavor. Others opt for quail eggs. As for the braising liquid, it is both savory and sweet, making it a great dipping sauce for fresh or boiled vegetables.
Keep in mind that this dish yields a lot of fat. If you make this dish ahead of time, put it in the fridge to cool. Pork fat will solidify at the top once cooled. Grab a spoon and scoop it out for a healthier version. Just don’t scoop out all of it, as fat is flavor! You can also skip the pork belly and use pork shoulder instead for a leaner version.
The trick to this dish is the longer the cooking time, the tender the meat and obviously the better the flavor. If you want to make this right, don’t rush it!
Vietnamese Caramelized & Braised Pork Belly with Eggs (Thit Kho Tau)
- 2 lbs pork belly
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon pork/chicken/mushroom stock powder
- 2-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 garlic cloves (mince)
- Half large shallot (mince)
- 1 teaspoon thick soy sauce or homemade caramel cooking sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- Other half of shallot (mince)
- 3 cups water
- 1 can (12 fl oz/ 355 mL) Coconut soda/juice
- 6 hard-boiled eggs (peel)
Pork Belly Marinade
- Clean the pork. Generously coat pork with salt (about 1 tablespoon) and give it an abrasive scrubbing. Rinse pork under cold water. Slice pork into 2x2 inch cubes and place in a small stock pot. Add water to cover and heat on medium high until water begins boiling. Once it starts boiling, immediately turn off heat and transfer pork to a colander to rinse and drain dry.
- Transfer parboiled pork to a large bowl and marinate with fish sauce, stock powder, sugar, garlic, shallot and thick soy sauce/caramel coooking sauce for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
- To the bottom of a small pot, add vegetable oil and heat on medium high. Add garlic and shallot. Sautee until fragrant and lightly brown. Add marinated pork and all its liquid. Toss gently with aromatics.
- Add eggs, water, coconut soda/juice. Simmer on low without lid for 1-1/2 hours or until nicely tender. Serve with rice.