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Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Eggs)

Thit Kho is a Vietnamese dish of braised pork and eggs. It’s slowly braised in homemade caramel syrup (easy to make), coconut water and fish sauce. Those three flavors make a magical combination. Make sure to enjoy this dish with rice.

A bowl of Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg), ready to eat.
Thit Kho, ready to eat!

Every Asian culture seems to have their own version of a braised pork dish. The Vietnamese one is my favorite ^_^

Thit Kho is the name of this dish. Sometimes people refer to it as Vietnamese caramelized pork (and eggs).

What does the name mean?

  • Thit – The Vietnamese word for meat.
  • Kho – Refers to any type of braised or simmered dish.

This dish is hearty and warms you to the core. I have happy memories of my grandma making her version of Thit Kho for weeknight dinners. She always made sure to double up on the eggs for me. It’s simple to prepare in advance and leftovers taste even better the next day and the day after (if there’s any left heheh).

The pork is fall apart in your mouth tender. The hardboiled eggs are simmered in the sauce and soak up so much flavor. I love smashing the eggs directly in my bowl of rice and spooning even more sauce on top. Oh mannnn when the yolks mix and mash with the sauce and rice!

Thit Kho is flavorful and comforting. It demands to be paired with a big bowl of rice (like most of the recipes on Onolicious).

A plate of browned pork shoulder for Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg).
Brown the pork before braising for extra flavor ^_^

Why This Recipe Works

There are two key things that make this dish so special:

  • The pork is braised in coconut water. Yes, not chicken or vegetable broth…but coconut water! Coconut water lends a gentle sweetness that can’t be replicated with any other ingredient.
  • Caramel (Nuoc Mau)! Caramel syrup is key to this dish. The first part of this recipe has you make an easy caramel syrup from sugar, rice vinegar, and water. It’s just takes 5 minutes. The caramel syrup is poured into the pot and simmered with all the other ingredients.

Note: The caramel syrup used in this recipe is called Nuoc Mau. It’s different from the dessert type caramel. Nuoc Mau is a deep golden syrup that gives depth and color to many Vietnamese dishes. It’s simple to prepare (see Steps 1-3 of the recipe), and you’ll feel so pro after making it the first time.

The flavors of Thit Kho feel complex, but the ingredients are fairly simple and can be found at most regular markets.

The key to getting the pork extra tender is to braise it over low heat for a long amount of time. Low and slow! We braise for 3 hours, but you can go even longer if you’d like. If I’m working from home, I will braise it all day. Makes the house smell so nice ^_^

An overhead shot of the ingredients for Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg): pork shoulder, hard boiled eggs, garlic, onions, chili pepper, rice vinegar, coconut water, back peppercorns, fish sauce, and sugar.
Ingredients for Thit Kho.

Ingredients

This recipe is adapted from Thit Heo Kho Trung (Pork and Eggs in Caramel Sauce) by Andrea Nguyen, published in The New York Times.

Nguyen’s original recipe is delicious. I made several changes to match more of the Thit Kho flavors that I recall (every family seems to have their own version) and simplified it a little. Also made it much more saucy/brothy…got to have all that sauce to spoon on rice! I was craving Thit Kho for so long, and when I saw the article, I literally ran to the market for all the ingredients. The craving was fierce! The final dish? Immensely satisfying.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sugar
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Pork Shoulder or Pork Belly – Pork belly is traditional, and I love pork belly. But! Using all pork belly is almost too rich and fatty. I prefer a mix of pork belly and pork shoulder. That 50/50 balance is pretty nice.
  • Fish Sauce
  • Onion – Onions are not usually in Thit Kho, but I love the sweetness they provide. I also just love onions in general! They turn so soft and practically melt after this very long braise.
  • Garlic Cloves – Want to add more garlic? By all means, do it!
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Coconut Water – if you have fresh coconut water, definitely use that. If not, just buy unsweetened coconut water from the market (this is what I do most of the time).
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs – Feel free to add more eggs.
Pouring homemade caramel into a saucepan filled with all the other Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg) ingredients: pork shoulder, hard boiled eggs, garlic, onions, chili pepper, rice vinegar, coconut water, back peppercorns, fish sauce, and sugar.
Pouring in the caramel sauce.

Step by Step Directions

Ready to cook? Ok ^_^

Make the caramel.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir till the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.

Continue to cook without stirring till the mixture turns a deep golden color, about 4 minutes (pick up the saucepan and gently swirl it around if some spots look darker than others). Turn off the heat, but keep the saucepan on the stove. Let it caramelize for 1 more minute.

Remove from the stove, add 3 tablespoons of water and stir to dissolve/mix the caramel. Set aside.

Brown the pork.
In a large saucepan, brown all sides of the pork over medium-high heat.

Once browned, add the onions, garlic, black peppercorns, fish sauce, coconut water, and caramel (prepared in Step 1-3). Stir and bring to a boil.

Braise.
Skim any scum that floats to the top. Turn the heat to low and place the lid on the saucepan. Let simmer for 2 hours.

Remove the lid and let cook for another 30 minutes on low heat.

Remove excess fat.
To remove excess fat from the sauce, take out all the pork pieces and place them in a bowl (cover the bowl so that the pork doesn’t dry out). Let the sauce in the saucepan cool, and then refrigerate till the fat hardens. Spoon off and discard the fat.

Tip: In a rush? Freeze the sauce for 30 minutes (instead of putting it in the refrigerator), and then spoon off the fat.

Ready to eat!
Add the pork back in to the saucepan. Slide in the hardboiled eggs. Turn the heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes. Add chili peppers if you’d like.

Eat hot, with lots of rice! All that savory sauce is especially delicious when poured over a big bowl of rice.

An overhead shot of a bowl of Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg), ready to eat.
Thit Kho, ready to eat ^_^

FAQs and Tips

How long does this dish keep?

This is one of those dishes that taste even better the next day. The prepared dish will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Make lots (you can even double the recipe if you have a big pot), and you’ll be set for lunch/dinner the next few days. This is also a great recipe if you have big family dinner.

How to reheat this dish?

I like it warm it up over the stovetop. Just scoop out however much you plan to eat and warm it over medium-low eat.

What are good vegetables to pair with Thit Kho?

Because this is a rich and hearty dish, you’ll want some greens on the side. These are a few dishes we love to pair with Thit Kho:
Boiled Okra
Garlic and Fish Sauce Ong Choy (can never have too many dishes with fish sauce!)
Korean Bean Sprouts
Hot Sesame Oil Tofu (not a vegetable, but a refreshing dish that pairs well)
Garlic and Ginger Green Beans

Most important tip.

Eat Thit Kho with a big bowl of rice ^_^

Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg) Recipe

See below and enjoy!

A bowl of Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg), ready to eat.

Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg)

Yield: Serves 3-4 (make sure to eat with rice!)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Thit Kho is a popular Vietnamese dish of braised pork and eggs. It's slowly braised in a homemade caramel syrup (easy to make), coconut water and fish sauce. Those three flavors make a magical combination. Make sure to enjoy this dish with rice. All that savory sauce is especially delicious when poured over a big bowl of rice.

Ingredients

Instructions

    1. Make the caramel syrup: In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir till the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.
    2. Continue to cook without stirring till the mixture turns a deep golden color, about 4 minutes (pick up the saucepan and swirl it around if some spots turn darker than others). Turn off the heat, but keep the saucepan on the stove. Let it caramelize for 1 more minute.
    3. Remove from the stove, add 3 tablespoons of water and stir to dissolve/mix the caramel. Set aside.
    4. Brown the pork: In a large saucepan, brown all sides of the pork over medium-high heat.
    5. Once browned, add the onions, garlic, black peppercorns, fish sauce, coconut water, and caramel syrup (prepared in Step 1-3). Stir and then bring to a boil.
    6. Skim any scum that floats to the top. Turn the heat to low and place the lid on the saucepan. Let simmer for 2 hours.
    7. Remove the lid and let cook for another 30 minutes on low heat.
    8. To remove excess fat from the sauce, take out all the pork pieces and place them in a bowl (cover the bowl so that the pork doesn't dry out). Let the sauce in the saucepan cool, and then refrigerate till the fat hardens. Spoon off and discard the fat.
    9. Add the pork back in to the saucepan. Slide in the eggs. Turn the heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes. Add chili peppers if you'd like.
    10. Eat hot, with lots of rice!

Notes

Recipe adapted from Thit Heo Kho Trung (Pork and Eggs in Caramel Sauce) by Andrea Nguyen, published in The New York Times.

kat

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

hope I can find coconut water, this sounds so good!

Kathy

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Hi Kat! Fingers crossed you find coconut water, this dish is so tasty! Especially when it's cold out ^_^ - Kathy

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