Braised Pork Belly and Eggs (Thịt kho tàu)

Braised pork belly and eggs was a staple in my childhood and probably ranks up there as one of my top 5 favorite food. It is eaten with steaming white rice, with about ½ cup of broth ladled over the rice. There are many variation to this southern Vietnamese dish, but the recipe revealed here is what I grew up eating. Traditionally, caramelized sugar is used to achieve the deep, clear amber broth that is the hall mark of this recipe, although some recipes call for the use of soy sauce (pork adobo style) instead to achieve the same effect.

The result is a more savory broth versus a sweeter broth. The pork belly is parboiled for 5 minutes, before coated and browned in the caramelized sugar. For a deeper and more complex flavor, caramelize brown sugar instead of white sugar. The pork belly is then braised for three hours in coconut water for a luscious, melt-in-your mouth experience unlike any other. Think of pork belly burnt ends and you’ll get the picture. An alternative to coconut water is equal amount water. Chicken stock can also be used as the broth base. For the best tasting broth, use fresh coconut water from young coconuts, available at most Asian supermarkets. If fresh coconut water is not available, I recommend Vita Coco coconut water (link below). If you are starting this dish late in the evening, consider using a slow cooker during the braising step. Set the slow cooker for low temperature and slow cook for 6-8 hours.

Understand that this is an incredibly rich dish and one serving should last you until your next meal! The abundance of pork fat from the pork belly is what makes the broth and the dish in itself very rich and fatty. If this sounds overwhelming, pork shoulder can be substituted for pork belly instead. But trust me, the experience will not be the same. Braised pork belly and eggs is very similar to Filipino pork adobo, except it is sweeter and has boiled eggs.

For a spicy kick, add one or two red Thai chili peppers while braising.

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