Vietnamese Braised Pork and Pineapple (Thit Kho Thom)
Pork and pineapples go wonderfully together. There are many dishes from different countries that include these two ingredients. In Vietnam, we braise pork belly or pork shoulder with pineapples in a clay pot with fish sauce and a thick caramel sauce for color. The dish is savory with a hint of sweetness and it's great with white rice.
My husband doesn't like savory mixed with sweet. So for the longest time in our marriage, I didn't make Vietnamese braised pork and pineapple (Thit Kho Thom). It was not practical to make a dish that only I would eat. The other night, I said, "Screw it! I'm making pork and pineapples and that's that." In my head, it was very dramatic. In real life, husband was just as happy that I cooked him dinner.
Vietnamese Braised / Caramelized Pork and Pineapples (Thit Kho Tom)
- 3 lb pork belly slab (buying slabs of pork belly makes it easier to clean)
- 2 shallots (peel and mince)
- 4 cloves garlic (peel and mince)
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon thick soy sauce or homemade caramel cooking sauce
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 40 oz can pineapples (cut into chunks)
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice from the can
- 2 green onions/scallions (slice thinly)
- Thoroughly clean the pork belly. Pork has an odor if not cleaned before cooking, particular with pork belly. To thoroughly clean pork, I sprinkle a thin layer of salt (about 1 tablespoon) all around the pork. Then I massage the salt into the meat. I also take a knife and scrape the skin of the pork to remove the outer residue. I rinse the pork with water then cut it into chunks. I blanch the meat in boiling water with a pinch of salt for 3-5 minutes. Drain the pork in a colander, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. The pork is now ready for cooking.
- Marinate pork with shallots, garlic, fish sauce, ground pepper, thick soy sauce/homemade caramel cooking sauce and sugar
- Add pork to a clay pot and and all its liquid and braise for about one hour on low heat with lid slightly ajar to prevent boiling over.
- After one hour, remove the lid, pineapple chunks and pineapple juice. Let the liquid cook down for 20 minutes in the clay pot uncovered.
- Sprinkle with green onions when you are ready to serve.