Caramelized Pork and Eggs (Thit Kho Trung) Recipe

Vietnamese cuisine, with its diverse range of ingredients and preparation techniques, stands as one of the most cherished culinary traditions around the world. Dishes like pho, banh mi and goi cuon have already made their mark globally. Yet, there are countless other dishes, slightly lesser-known but equally delightful, waiting to be explored. One such dish is the Caramelized Pork and Eggs, locally known as “Thit Kho Trung.”

At first glance, Thịt Kho Trứng might seem simple, but it’s a dish steeped in Vietnamese tradition. Often served during Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, this dish symbolizes prosperity, happiness, and the unity of family. Every household might have its own slight variations, but the core elements remain consistent: tender chunks of pork belly, golden caramelized coating, and perfectly hard-boiled eggs, all stewed together in a savory-sweet broth.

What makes Thịt Kho Trứng truly special, apart from its rich flavors, is its narrative. Each bite tells a story of celebrations, of family gatherings around a steaming pot. Let’s go through the process of creating your very own Thịt Kho Trứng, letting you experience and share a piece of Vietnamese cuisine.

thit kho trung

Ingredients

Crafting the perfect Thịt Kho Trứng begins with selecting high-quality ingredients. The balance and harmony of flavors characteristic of Vietnamese cuisine hinge on the freshness and authenticity of the components. Here’s what you’ll need to bring this dish to life:

Pork:

  • 300 grams of pork belly or pork shoulder. This choice depends on your preference for fat content. Pork belly offers a richer, melt-in-your-mouth experience, while pork shoulder provides a leaner alternative. Whichever you choose, ensure it’s cut into bite-sized pieces.

Eggs:

  • 5 fresh chicken or duck eggs. The eggs will absorb the flavors of the stew, becoming a savory delight in themselves.

Liquid Base:

  • 500 ml of coconut water or 500ml of still water. This not only provides the necessary liquid for stewing but also imparts a subtle sweetness to the dish. If coconut water is unavailable, regular water can be a substitute, although the taste may slightly change.

Seasoning and Spices:

  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, an indispensable element of Vietnamese cooking, giving depth and umami.
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sugar for caramel and additional seasoning. The caramelized sugar provides color and a foundational sweet taste.
  • A pinch of salt to balance out the flavors.
  • 2 shallots, minced, which add a slight pungency and depth.
  • A sprinkle of black pepper for a gentle kick.

Optional:

  • Red chili slices or spring onion for garnishing and added color contrast.

Having gathered all these ingredients, you’re all set to delve into the preparations.

Preparations Before Cooking

Before diving into the main cooking process, a few preparatory steps are crucial to ensure that the Thịt Kho Trứng is cooked to perfection. Each of these preparations sets the stage for the symphony of flavors that define this dish.

Marinating the Pork:

  • Purpose: Marinating the pork allows it to absorb the foundational flavors, ensuring that every bite is flavorful.
  • Procedure:
    a. In a mixing bowl, combine the bite-sized pork pieces with the minced shallots, fish sauce, a pinch of salt, and black pepper.
    b. Mix well, ensuring that each piece is well-coated with the marinade.
    c. Cover the bowl and let the pork marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour. If you have more time, letting it marinate for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator can yield even richer flavors.

Hard Boiling the Eggs:

  • Procedure:
    a. Place the eggs in a saucepan, ensuring they are in a single layer.
    b. Fill the saucepan with water until the eggs are submerged by about an inch.
    c. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
    d. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the eggs simmer for about 10 minutes.
    e. Remove from heat and immediately transfer the eggs into a bowl of ice water. This not only stops the cooking process but also makes peeling easier.
Prepare for thit kho trung
Hard-boil the eggs and marinate the pork to be ready for cooking.

Preparing the Caramel Syrup for Thit Kho Trung

  • Significance: The caramel serves a dual purpose. It provides a deep, rich color to the dish and introduces a foundational sweetness that complements the savory notes.
  • Procedure: Read my post about making caramel syrup for flan as well as for other dishes like thit kho trung. In general, the procedure includes these steps:
    a. In a pot, add 2-3 tablespoons of the sugar and just enough water to moisten it.
    b. Place the pot over medium heat, letting the sugar dissolve without stirring.
    c. Keep a watchful eye as the sugar transforms from a pale golden hue to a deep amber color. This process might take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.
    d. Once the desired color is achieved, remove from heat immediately to prevent burning. It’s always safer with a lighter caramel, as over-darkening can introduce a bitter taste.

Cooking Procedure

After the foundational preparations, it’s time to bring the elements of Thit Kho Trung together. The cooking process should be approached with patience and attentiveness to fully realize the depth and richness of the dish.

Stir-fry the Pork

  • Heat a large pot or deep pan over medium-high heat, with a bit of cooking oil (or annatto oil, if any).
  • Once hot, add the marinated pork pieces, ensuring they are spread out and not overcrowded.
  • Stir them evenly until it’s cooked, which should take about 5-7 minutes.
  • While waiting for the pork to be cooked, peel the eggs.
Prepare ingredients for thit kho trung

Cooking the Pork:

  • Add the coconut water (or regular water if you’re using that) to the pot.
  • Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, allowing the mixture to simmer. Cover the pot partially with a lid.
  • Let it simmer for about 30 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.

Adding the Eggs and caramel syrup:

  • After the pork has been simmering for about half an hour and has become tender, gently introduce the hard-boiled eggs to the pot.
  • Ensure the eggs are submerged in the sauce so they can soak up the flavors.
thit kho trung
  • Add caramel syrup in to bring a luscious brown color to the pot.
  • Continue simmering the mixture for another 1-1.5 hours.

Final Seasoning Adjustments:

  • Importance: As with most stews and slow-cooked dishes, flavor intensification occurs over the cooking period. It’s vital to taste and adjust accordingly before serving.
  • Procedure:
    Taste the broth for seasoning balance. Adjust with more fish sauce, sugar, or salt if required.
    The end result should be a harmonious balance between savory, sweet, and umami flavors.

Braised pork still retains its whole pieces, with the fat intact, and the meat is rich in flavor. The eggs are chewy and have a bouncy texture, soaking up the delicious sweetness from the meat. The simmering braising liquid is thick and has an alluring amber color.

Your Thit Kho Trung is now bubbling in the pot, rich with traditions and ready to be served. Top with some herbs such as cilantro, green onion, and serve it with Steamed Jasmine Rice, Pickled Vegetables (Dưa Chua).

thit kho trung

Thit Kho Trung, Caramelized Pork with Egg

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

At first glance, Thịt Kho Trứng might seem simple, but it’s a dish steeped in Vietnamese familial warmth and tradition. Often served during Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, this dish symbolizes prosperity, happiness, and the unity of family.

Ingredients

Pork and Egg:

  • 300 grams of pork belly or pork shoulder
  • 5 fresh chicken or duck eggs

Liquid

  • 500 ml of coconut water or 500ml of still water.

Seasoning and Spices

Instructions

Step 1: Preparation

  • Marinating the Pork: a. In a mixing bowl, combine the bite-sized pork pieces with the minced shallots, fish sauce, a pinch of salt, and black pepper. Mix well, ensuring that each piece is well-coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl and let the pork marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Hard-boiling the egg: Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer the eggs in boiling water in at least 10 minutes. thit kho trung
  • Preparing the Caramel Syrup: You can opt for heating sugar and water until caramelization or heating sugar only until caramelization, then add water. Read more here.how to make caramel

Step 2: Cooking

  • Stir-fry the Pork: Heat a large pot or deep pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the marinated pork pieces, ensuring they are spread out and not overcrowded. Stir them evenly until it's cooked, which should take about 5-7 minutes. While waiting for the pork to be cooked, peel the eggs.
  • Cook the pork: Add the coconut water (or regular water if you're using that) to the pot. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, allowing the mixture to simmer. Cover the pot partially with a lid. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
  • Adding the Eggs and caramel syrup: After the pork has been simmering for about half an hour and has become tender, gently introduce the hard-boiled eggs to the pot. Ensure the eggs are submerged in the sauce so they can soak up the flavors. Add caramel syrup in the bring a luscious brown color to the pot. Continue simmering the mixture for another 1-1.5 hours.thit kho trungHow to use leftover caramel

Step 3: Final Seasoning and Adjustment

  • Taste the broth for seasoning balance. Adjust with more fish sauce, sugar, or salt if required.The end result should be a harmonious balance between savory, sweet, and umami flavors.thit kho trung
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 525

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Other Recipes with Pork Belly:

Other Egg Recipes

Egg is one of the most common ingredients in cooking. Let’s take a look on our egg recipes:

Savory Dishes:

Sweet Dishes

1 Comment

  1. My Vietnamese mother-in-law often makes this dish for us. Love it!

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