Sunday, June 15, 2008
Thit Heo Kho (Vietnamese Braised Caramelised Pork)
This is a recipe of that "Vietnamese adobo" dish I alluded to in a previous post. If I understand correctly, thit heo means pork and kho means broth, so thit heo kho translates to pork braised in broth. Like most folk dishes, this dish has so many versions as there are people who cook them, so this is a combination of the various versions I've seen (e.g., see recipes 1, 2, 3). This dish has complex flavours, combining the sweet caramel and coconut juice with the salty fish sauce and spicy black pepper.
1/2 kilo cubed pork, preferrably with some fat and skin
1/2 cup muscovado sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce diluted with 1/4 cup water*
4 cloves garlic, chooped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups coconut juice
coarsely ground black pepper
1. Heat up a thick-walled wok or casserole over medium heat. Caramelise the sugar with about a tablespoon of water until it is dark brown and lightly syrupy.
2. Add the fish sauce and water mixture to the caramel, stirring well. Bring to a simmer.
3. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, and pork. This will cool down the wok considerably, so continue simmering until the temperature is back up, occasionally stirring for even cooking.
4. Pour in the coconut juice and stir well. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for around an hour until the broth reduces to a sauce, braising the pork in the salty caramel sauce and coconut juice. Stir from time to time.
Some recipes suggest adding hardboiled eggs or tofu during the last few minutes of cooking, the bland eggs or tofu absorbing the sweet-salty sauce of the stew. Garnish with chive flowers or scallion greens. Serve with steamed rice.
* One of my source recipes calls for 1/2 cup of Vietnamese fish sauce, or nuoc mam. However, for this recipe I used Filipino patis, which is much stronger and saltier than the subtly flavoured nuoc mam, so I diluted it with water. You may change the proportions of patis to water according to your taste. Better yet, use nuoc mam if you have some at home.