This Vietnamese thịt kho recipe is a low and slow braise with suuuper tender and flavorful pork, with hard-boiled eggs that have absorbed all the seasoning too. It’s traditionally served around the lunar new year because of how well it keeps after cooking.
It’s savory, salty, and slightly sweet seasoned mainly with fish sauce and soy sauce paired with hard-boiled eggs. Served atop a large mound of steamed white rice, and a side of pickled mustard greens, these are the flavors and memories of my childhood.
The pan-asian pork & egg dish
This dish is seen in very slightly modded variations across other ethnic cuisines, not just Vietnamese. I’ve seen variations in Japanese food, Chinese food, and Taiwanese food. In fact, it’s extremely similar to the recipes I have for Filipino pork adobo and chicken adobo.
I don’t know the actual connection–why all these Asian cuisines have this. Perhaps is the readily available and common ingredients for a simple recipe. It keeps well, and is delicious too.
Cuts of meat to use
If you can get pork belly with the bones, you’ll have even better results than just belly, but you can also substitute for whatever cut you prefer especially if you like it leaner. My ideal ratio of pork for this dish is actually 3/4 pork belly and 1/4 of a leaner cut like shoulder.
Pork belly and fat is tasty, but sometimes when the fat to meat ratio isnt right in it, im left with just hunks of fat and nothing to balance it out with. If you pay close attention when selecting the cuts with a ratio you like, it could work out.
Near me in Southern California’s Little Saigon, you can get a higher quality of pork belly at Quang Minh Mini Market. It costs more, but there seems to be a consensus that its worth the cost–something I need to check out! However, I’m having excellent thit kho results from using nearby Vietnamese and Filipino supermarkets in the meantime.
The seasoning & sauce
Here are the brands I use for the seasoning: Rico coconut soda, Kikkoman soy sauce, and Three Crabs Brand fish sauce. The thick soy sauce brand is Koon Chun, to be used in a pinch for color, but you really should be making your own simple caramel coloring (nuoc mau).
I have tried adding slices of yellow onion too and it adds a nice layer of flavor to this dish. You can remove the onion at the end of the braise if you prefer since it will have given up all its flavor to the broth.
Adjust the seasoning again after the liquid has reduced to a consistency you like: tinker with the soy sauce, fish sauce, and salt again to taste and write it down so you know what to do next time. This dish scales very well too if you want to make larger quantities for the family. I love the eggs with this, personally, at almost a 1:1 ratio so it’s hard to have too many.
Egg upgrade. If you’re feeling extra fancy, instead of boiling these for hard yolks, you can follow the steps on my ramen egg recipe for gooey, jammy yolks instead, and marinate in the sauce in this recipe before serving the eggs.
Serving & storage
As a kid I enjoyed separating parts of this dish, mashing the yolk with the rice and spooning sauce over it. My cousins were always requesting grandma to make this dish, and even as they grew older. They’d request this dish with “extra sauce” for y’all salt fiends. It is an easy and effective way to stretch the dish with more rice too.
This dish is commonly eaten with a side of dua chua (pickled mustard greens) which provides a fresh and crunchy balance. Any kind of salty meat like this pairs well with a pungent, vinegary pickle.
Once you refrigerate this dish, all the fat will solidify at the top. Since we typically use pork belly for this, I will scrape some of this off. The dish and meat overall are still super tendy and fatty without it!
Thịt Kho – Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs
- 2 lb (907.2 g) pork belly cut into 1.5″ cubes
- 8 hard-boiled eggs
- 6 fl oz coconut soda Rico brand. Coca Cola or 7 Up works in a pinch too.
- 3 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 yellow onion cut into large pieces (6-8 large chunks)
- 4 tbsp caramel color (nuoc mau) Depending on how dark your caramel sauce gets, you may not need to use all of it.
- Cut the pork into smaller pieces. I like 1.5″ cubes so it cooks slightly faster.
- Bring 2-3 quarts of water boiling on high, or enough to fully submerge the pork.When the water’s boiling, add the pork for 1-2 minutes just to clean it. Drain then rinse the pork under running water until the water is clear.
- Add the coconut soda, soy sauce, fish sauce and salt to the pot.
- Fill up the pot until the water just covers the pork. Turn the heat to high.
- When it hits a boil, drop the heat until you still see a slight boil, maybe about about 25% heat and let it simmer uncovered for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Check and stir the pot every 20 minutes. The longer you cook it, the softer the pork gets. Leaving it slightly uncovered lets the liquid reduce so you get a nice concentrated sauce later.
- Make the caramel color (nuoc mau) and add it to the pot.
- Make the hard-boiled eggs: add your eggs to a pot and cover the eggs with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let it sit for 8 minutes. Cool under running water then peel.
- Add the peeled hard boiled eggs to the pot of pork in the last ~30-40 minutes of cooking. Add the onions at this time too. Eventually we want the liquid to reduce to about 1/3 of the original but you can do it based your own taste of the sauce and the tenderness of the pork.