We were riding bikes through Montreal, and all of a sudden, I had a huge craving for Thit Heo Kho, a braised pork and egg dish. My mom used to make a version of this dish all the time, and I remember loving the sweet and savory sauce and the tenderness of the pork and intoxicating flavors of the egg. So of course, I had to give this a shot in my own kitchen.
1.5 lb pork shoulder (or 1lb pork shoulder and 1/2 lb pork belly) cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tsp salt
2 cups coconut soda
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water
6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
To make the caramel, in a heavy saucepan stir the sugar and water over medium heat until sugar melts. Watch as it bubbles and starts to turn brown. Continue stirring and monitor closely until it is a dark golden brown. Then immediately take the pan of the heat and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and shallots and allow to cook until fragrant. Add the pork cubes and salt. Brown well. Add in the caramel sauce and reduce the heat to medium. Allow the pork to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the coconut soda and give the mix a good stir. Cover the pot and let the pork braise for about an hour, until the pork is just tender. Scoop out any fat that surfaces to the top. Adjust the heat to low. Using a toothpick, punch a few holes in the eggs and add the whole eggs, fish sauce and black pepper to the pot and let simmer for another half hour. Taste the sauce. The flavors should be a good mix of savory, salty and sweet. Some people do prefer a slightly sweeter or saltier flavor. Add an additional tablespoon of coconut soda or fish sauce to cater towards your taste.
This dish is best served family style with a heaping bowl of jasmine rice. For anyone who is in love with Vietnamese cooking, I suggest you give this dish a try. After braising the pork for about an hour and a half, the meat is super tender and all the fat has just been absorbed to add an additional layer of flavor. Eat bite was an amazing mix of sweet and salty. By punching holes in the eggs, it allowed the caramel sauce to seep into the interior of the eggs, adding even more flavor. For those of you who prefer more fat on your meat, I recommend adding in thick slices of the pork belly. This dish was absolutely delicious and I will definitely add this to my rotation.