Vietnamese Braised Pork and Eggs — Thịt Heo Kho Trứng
Kho is the Vietnamese method of braising meats. You’ll find a wide variety of different kho out there to choose from…beef flank with ginger, beef flank with coconut, potatoes, and carrots, chicken or riblets with caramel sauce, and fish just to name a few. Now, almost every Vietamese mom worth her salt has her own special way to make kho and my mother is no exception.
One of her prized dishes and most often requested dishes was this dish, thịt heo kho trứng…pork braised in a caramel coconut sauce with eggs. Whenever either my sister or I were home from college, this is one of the first things that we’d
beg politely request my mother to make for us. It is one of those dishes that immediately conjurs thoughts of growing up in the Tran household and really, for me, is the culinary embodiment of home. Now, many moons later, I’ve figured out how to make this on my own and it has now become something that I get to make for my mother and siblings when they come to visit me!
Traditionally, this dish is made using fresh pork leg (ham) and cooked with the skin and fat intact to yield a deeper, richer flavored dish. For a more healthy conscious twist, I’ve chosen to use pork butt (boston butt) here with a minimal amount of fat on the meat to still give some dimension and richness to the dish but not compel me to have a coronary at the dining room table.
For eggs, traditionally chicken eggs are used, but I prefer quail’s eggs because their petite size makes them easier to eat and…it comes prepared in a can for quick usage (hey, I’m not above using canned goods here and there…besides, I have to admit, I stink at peeling eggs). Fresh or frozen coconut juice is best here, but if that is unavailable, any unsweetened canned variety will be just fine.
We traditionally serve this with plenty of rice. The resulting braising sauce is absolutely divine when drizzled over white rice. A beautiful balance of salty and sweet, to be honest, I think it’s my favorite part of this whole dish. The pork meat is tender and flavorful while the eggs provide a nice textural counterbalance. A very classic southern Vietnamese dish, I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does!
Thịt Heo Kho Trứng
Adapted from my mother
1 to 1.5lbs pork (boston) butt, most fat trimmed cut into 1″ x 2″ strips
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons caramel sauce**
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 15oz can of quails eggs in water, drained (or 6 hard boiled and peeled chicken eggs)
1 1/2 cups fresh coconut juice (no coconut flesh or bits)
In a pot with a heavy bottom, layer onions and then pork meat. Add in caramel sauce, fish sauce, and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring to ensure that all ingredients are incorporated. You’ll see the pork start to take on a beautiful caramel color.
Add in coconut juice, eggs, and enough water just to cover the meat. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until pork is tender and sauce has reduced to about half. Stir every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking and coloring of pork and eggs.
Serve hot with lots of white rice
**Note: I haven’t quite figured out how to make caramel sauce (nuoc mau) yet, however, you can easily find prepared caramel sauce in most asian stores in the spice section. Keep unused any unused portions in airtight container or jar in your fridge.