So I said in my one-year anniversary post that the next post would be this recipe. I apologize for lying. I’ll try hard not to!
This is one of my favorite comfort foods. It reminds me of my dad. He didn’t make a wide variety of foods, but the ones he did he did right- bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew) with fresh bread from the store, bun mang vit (duck noodle soup with bamboo), pho ga (chicken pho, using two chickens), prime rib with twice-baked potatoes, and thit kho. I also remember a lot of broccoli covered in cheese whiz, green beans dipped in hard boiled eggs crushed into soy sauce, and crackers covered in pieces of banana and cheese (I just tried to google this and got a woman who ate bananas + cheez whiz. I am not willing to recreate this to show you a picture, you’ll just have to imagine the glory).
Luckily my mom also knows how to make thit kho, and I have an old email from my dad with the recipe for bo kho. I doubt I’ll ever have pho ga or bun mang vit as delicious as he made it, but I will eventually try those too. When I have a little more confidence with my Vietnamese cooking.
Thit kho is a wonderful food- sweet, fatty, salty. The caramelized sugars play so well with the coconut juice, and the hard boiled eggs soaked in sauce are awesome when mashed into rice, with more sauce spooned on top.
Lots of recipes for this use just pork belly, but that’s a little TOO fatty for me. I think it’s good to do 1/2 pork shoulder and 1/2 pork belly, or even 1/3 belly and 1/3 shoulder. Marinate the pork with salt, pepper, and some minced garlic for at least half an hour.
Meanwhile, boil a bunch of eggs. I like to put my eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, let boil for about a minute, and then turn off heat and cover. Forget about them (or check on them after 10 minutes or so). Then drain off the hot water and pour cool water into the pot so you don’t burn yourself trying to peel them. To peel the warm eggs, crack them on the rim of the pot, then peel the shell off into the water, giving them a quick rinse to get rid of any extra eggshells. Then you can dump the water through a colander to throw out the egg shells (or use them in your compost!)
My mom likes to brown the pork in a bit of oil first, but this is an optional step.
Not an optional step: cook rice! My roommate has an awesome rice cooker that I love to use, but I guess now is a good time to start rice in a pot if you want to do that.
Now for the fun part! Put some sugar in a pot (yes I’m going to be that vague. Verbatim from my mother: “not too much. Oh that’s sort of a lot.”) Turn the heat to medium and WATCH IT CAREFULLY.
It’ll go from sugar, to a syrup, to light brown, and finally to a deep brown. MAKE SURE YOU PAY ATTENTION HERE because you don’t want it to burn. When it’s that pretty color, toss in the pork and stir it around.
Then dump in a bunch of coconut water.
Add in the eggs, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until pork is cooked. Turn off the heat, and dump in a bunch of fish sauce and some black pepper. Serve over white rice with steamed veggies or the bean sprout salad below.
Bean sprout salad: microwave a few handfuls of beansprout in a plastic bag for 1 min and 30 seconds. Check how crispy they are. If you like them softer, keep microwaving in 30 second intervals.
Make a dressing: mix a lot of rice vinegar, a spoonful of sugar, and a few drops of sesame oil.
Cut up whatever herbs you have (we had cilantro and green onion, but basil, mint, parsley would all be fine too) very finely, and toss with the beansprouts and dressing.
Thit kho (from my mom!)
2 lbs of pork- your choice of how much to do belly and how much shoulder/butt.
Eggs (1-2 per person)
Salad: bean sprouts, fresh herbs, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil
1. Cut the pork up into 2-inch chunks. Season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Refrigerate while you hardboil the eggs and start cooking the rice. Since it takes awhile to hardboil eggs, if a half hour hasn’t passed yet this is a good time to make that salad- microwave the bean sprouts for 1-2 minutes. Mix 2 TB rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, and a few drops of sesame oil. Mince herbs. Toss with bean sprouts and dressing and set aside.
2. (optional) Quickly sear pork cubes on all sides to get them a little brown. Alternately, parboil the pork for a minute or two to get rid of the gunk and have a slightly clearer sauce. Alternately, do neither of these things (which I do most often).
3. CAREFULLY caramelize 3 TB or so of sugar (see pictures above). Immediately stir in the pork and pour in about a cup of coconut juice/soda (I love cocorico). If you have a sweet tooth, use all coconut juice (I do!), but otherwise, add in enough water to cover the pork. Bring to a simmer.
4. Peel your eggs. Toss em in. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until pork is done. Eat over white rice with the bean sprouts.