Since originally posting this recipe last year, I’ve made this recipe TONS of times for family gatherings, girls’ night in, and even as a change up to the traditional casserole gift for a friend who just had a baby. With all that practice, I’ve added to the original recipe below a few notes about how to change it up a little, small tweaks that could save you time and money while keeping Mom’s great original flavor. Enjoy! —wwc
The holidays get us thinking about family gatherings, and this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is one of the most traditional dishes served at important Vietnamese family gatherings: Thit Kho Trung – Braised Pork & Egg. This dish has a slightly sweet and savory flavor and historically is made by caramelizing the meat and then simmering it for hours. Mom, however, has changed up the method to make it much easier, cutting out the caramelizing at the beginning and using coconut flavored soda to bring back memories of how she used to make this dish in Vietnam using coconut water from fresh coconuts.
I have distinct memories of eating this dish during Lunar New Year celebrations, or after traditional ceremonies where we offered dishes like this to our deceased ancestors. This is an easy dish to make, so we don’t have to save it for just special family occasions; it just takes some time (but not much effort!), so it’s best made when you have a few hours at home.
An alternative to whole, traditional eggs is to use quail eggs. This dish is best served ladled onto a bed of rice, with a side of cucumbers or pickled vegetables such as Dua Cai, which is another recipe in this Mom’s 52 series.
Thit Kho Trung – Braised Pork & Egg
INGREDIENTS – to serve 8:
- 4 lbs. of a combination of pork shoulder & pork spare ribs, cut into 2″-3″ chunks
- 8 cans of Coco Rico coconut flavored soda* (see below for another variation)
- 1 C. nuoc mam, aka fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 dozen eggs, or 1 can of quail eggs (drained)
*Instead of using all 8 cans of Coco Rico, you can use 4 cans of Coco Rico + 6 C. water, but add an additional 2 Tbsp. nuoc mam and 1/2 Tbsp. sugar to the above amounts.
STEP 1: BLANCH THE PORK
It’s tempting to try to cut out this step, but Mom says it’s important to do this to yield clear sauce for Thit Kho Trung. This step “cleans” the pork.
- Fill a large stockpot halfway with water, and turn on high heat.
- Once the water boils, gently add the pork pieces and stir for 10 seconds.
- Drain by carefully pouring the pot contents into a colander over the sink.
- Rinse the pot well, as it will be used in Step 2 below.
- Rinse the drained meat well to rinse off the scum, and drain again.
STEP 2: BRAISE THE PORK
- Pour the Coco Rico coconut flavored soda into a large stockpot. (If using the variation noted above, add the water here too.)
- Using high heat, bring the soda to a boil.
- Once the soda boils, gently add the blanched pork to the pot.
- Once the liquid comes to a boil again, turn the heat down to low. Skim any scum from the surface of the liquid.
- Add nuoc mam (fish sauce), salt, and sugar to the liquid. Adjust heat, as needed, to maintain a very low simmer. Note the time.
STEP 3: PREPARE THE EGGS
(If using canned quail eggs, skip this step.)
- Gently place one dozen eggs into a pot and cover with water.
- Using medium heat, bring the water to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.
- Pour out the hot water, and cover the eggs with cold water to cool them.
- Once the eggs have cooled, peel them.
STEP 4: FINALIZE THE THIT KHO TRUNG
- After the pork has been simmering for one hour, gently add the peeled, cooked eggs (or quail eggs) to the pot of simmering liquid.
- Continue to simmer your Thit Kho Trung for an additional two hours (so three hours total, from start to finish). The liquid will turn a beautiful dark auburn color, as the sugar in the coconut soda will caramelize by then, and the pork will be incredibly tender. [Update: If you don't have the time, you can stop at hour two and cut off the last hour. It won't be as dark in color, but it will still be deliciously tasty!]
- Gently ladle the tender Thit Kho Trung into a serving bowl, making sure to get a balance of pork pieces and eggs. At the table, make sure to spoon ample sauce onto white rice and enjoy!
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