Xin Chao! That’s Vietnamese for hello, and today I have another tasty recipe full of piggy goodness. I learned to make Vietnamese coconut braised pork (Thit Kho Tau) from Thanh (Tang), my daughter’s Vietnamese friend.
My family and I met Thanh in Hanoi, Vietnam last December when we traveled to visit my daughter who works there as an English teacher. On our last day Thanh hosted us in her house for an authentic Vietnamese meal, and also a cooking class. This was undoubtedly one of the many highlights of our trip. Thanh was such a gracious hostess and we learned A LOT from her.
Thanh is an enterprising young woman who runs a Maia Travel agency which offers multiple services, among them street food tours and home cooking experiences. I certainly recommend both.
The old fashioned method
Vietnamese people cook the old fashion way, by eyeballing it, or for instance by equating quantities to a common object. All in all, we made four different dishes. Thanh admitted that Vietnamese coconut braised pork is one of her favorite dishes, and I can certainly see why. Given its fabulous rich flavor, you would think that this is a complicated dish, but it really isn’t.
Making Vietnamese coconut braised pork is super easy. The key here is to saute the pork until it is golden brown, and then add in the remaining ingredients. This dish is served with whole hard-boiled eggs which Thanh likes to saute in order to give them a golden color before placing them into the dish or you can simmer them in the pan with the pork.
Palm sugar is the key
One of the ingredients in Vietnamese coconut braised pork is palm sugar, which I bought at the market during my visit. Thanh said that you can also use regular brown sugar as a substitute. I have also read that you can make a mixture of brown sugar and molasses.
We had a great time without a doubt. We all chopped, sliced, diced, stirred, and everything in between. One of the funniest moments of the afternoon was when Thanh’s mom returned from the market and saw my husband sweeping the floor. She said to Thanh in Vietnamese: “You need to find a husband like that.” Thanh translated and we all laughed.
All things considered, I think the recipe turned out great, at least according to my husband and son. Too bad Thanh is not here to give me her seal of approval.
Here are the visual steps to make Thįt Kho Tàu:
- Gather all your ingredients and have them chopped measured and ready to go.
- Place the 4 eggs in a pan with cold water to cover them and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 6 minutes.
- Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and drop them into an ice bath and set them aside.
- In a large braising pan on medium heat sauté the pork with the shallots, garlic, palm sugar, 5 spice powder and palm sugar. Allow the palm sugar to caramelize slightly. Brown the pork on all sides.
- Add the soy sauce after the pork is browned.
- Add the fish sauce.
- Add the coconut water and the pan will deglaze. Cover and turn down the heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Now would be a good time to peel those eggs and make the rice.
- After 25 minutes add the peeled eggs and allow to simmer in the juice for an additional 5 minutes. You can turn the eggs so they brown evenly in the juice. When ready to serve, sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice and fresh greens on the side. Enjoy!
If you want to check out some authentic Vietnamese recipes I have some to share that you can easily make in your home.
Bun cha: Vietnamese pork meatballs are served with a delicious golden broth, a variety of fresh herbs, greens, and rice noodles.
During the hot summer months a nice cool Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad: Pho Tron is very popular.
You have to finish off your meal with a traditional Vietnamese Egg Coffee or ca phe trung (cà phê trứng) is a Hanoi espresso with a sweet meringue like topping.
Vietnamese Coconut Braised Pork
To prepare the eggs, place them in a pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Allow the water to boil for 6 minutes. Remove from heat and place the eggs in a container with cold water and ice so they are easy to peel. Set them aside.
On medium heat saute the pork belly with the shallots, 5 spice powder, garlic and palm sugar, and allow the sugar to caramelize slightly.
Pour in the soy sauce, fish sauce, and the coconut water. Turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Place the eggs in the stew for an additional 5 minutes.
Serve with steamed rice and garnish with chopped cilantro.