Friday, April 8, 2011

Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly (Thit Heo Kho Tau)

Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly with Egg, Fried Tofu and Coconut Juice

Vietnamese food, for me, is a new thing but I've loved everything that I've had. I hope I represented this dish well as I don't want to disrespect it. I need more practice making Vietnamese food and I'm not the best braiser of meats in the world either but I gave it a go anyway.

Start out with:

2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
2 shallots, chopped fine
green bell pepper
fried tofu, quartered


For the braising liquid:
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 star anise
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons of palm sugar or dark brown sugar
1 can of coconut juice
1.5 cups of water


Brown the pork belly on all sides and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot, hot enough to fry the aromatics and caramalize the sugar. Add the shallots, garlic, pepper and star anise. Cook until fragrant. Add the sugar and stir for a few minutes. Add the fish sauce, water, coconut juice, soy sauces, as well as the pork belly and fried tofu.

Braise for a few hours until the pork belly is tender. I braised for about 1.5 hours with the lid partially covering the pan.

Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pan. Poke holes into the hard-boiled eggs with a toothpick to prevent any blowups when you fry the eggs. Pan-fry, not deep fry, the eggs on all sides. Be careful of hot oil splashes. Set aside when done.

When the pork belly is done braising, let it rest on a board to cool. Cut the belly into slices and arrange on a plate or bowl. Drizzle with the pan sauce and serve with cilantro, chopped green onion, and steamed Jasmine rice.

The dish definitely had a lot of flavor. The star anise was not over-bearing at all but you could not ignore its presence. But I think that is a good thing. I loved the hard-boiled fried eggs. I will be cooking these a lot more now. They added a creamy, pillowy texture to the dish. The tofu soaked up all the good sauces and paired well the green peppers. I've never combined tofu and hard-boiled eggs and pork together before but it really works.

I will admit that I over-cooked the pork belly a bit. It was drier than I would have liked. The pork wasn't super tender and buttery but it still worked for me. Need to practice more braising!

All in all, I really enjoyed the Vietnamese-inspired braised pork belly.It had different flavors and combinations I haven't tried before. I will give it a professional try when I see it on a menu next time I'm in a Vietnamese restaurant.

6 comments:

  1. that was wayyy off from thit heo kho...
    its not overcooked it needs more time to cook the longer it takes to cook the more tender it will be
    cane sugar would be best to make a caramel and star anise and light soy sauce completely unnecessary
    also never use that brand of coco juice it sucks
    your recipe is so americanized it makes me disgusted

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  2. thanks for the comments Anonymous. I'm open to all kinds.

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  3. I appreciate the variety of dishes you present for us; thanks for the ideas, the great photos and for sharing!

    What a shame an insult must accompany "constructive criticism".

    Anonymous would be better served reading a blog that matches his apparent culinary superiority.

    N.

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  4. Hi! That was a good attempt! I grew up eating this dish and now am trying to learn how to recreate my mother's recipe. I would also suggest that the longer the braise, the more tender the meat will be - that will work for any meat, but especially really fatty and traditionally tougher meats (shanks, bellies, legs and thighs, etc.) One great thing you reminded me about, that many other more authentic recipes seem to forget, are the joys of fried hard boiled eggs! My mom used to do that too, but then would drop the eggs into the braising liquid with the pork for the last hour! Keep up the good work!

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  5. NO DISRESPECT, I KNOW YOU GAVE IT A TRY, BUT THIS IS VERY FAR FROM Thit Heo Kho Tau! I AM VIETNAMESE AND GREW UP ON THIS AND WE NEVER USE BELL PEPPERS OR STAR ANISE! AND THE BOILED EGGS ARE NOT SUPPOSE TO BE FRIED, THEY ARE SUPPOSE TO BOILED THE LAST HOUR ALONG IN THE SAUCE ALONG WITH THE MEAT!

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  6. thanks for sharing.

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