Mrs. Hue’s Caramelized Pork in Clay Pot (Thit Kho To) from www.savourasia.com

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2 servings
(3)
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Ingredients (10)

  • 200g pork (cubed if using pork belly; sliced if using pork shoulder)
  • 1Tbsp spring onion, sliced (the white and light green portion)
  • 1Tbsp ginger, smashed and minced
  • 1tsp hot chili, sliced
  • 2Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 3Tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • Fresh coconut, cut into strips (optional)
  • cooking oil

Summary

Mrs. Hue was our housekeeper in Hanoi. She didn’t like to cook so didn’t do it very often, but I think she was amused by how much I loved fatty pork and amazed at the quantity I could consume, so she would indulge me from time to time with her wonderful carmelized pork. The classic version (and the only one in my eyes) of Thit Kho To uses cubed pork belly but for a healthier version you may substitute with leaner pork shoulder. It is a rich and deeply savory dish (especially with the pork belly), in spite of the caramel sauce used to stew the pork. The coconut pieces are also now seen only rarely in preparations of this dish, but adding them lends a subtle complexity and the crisp coconut adds a great texture contrast. Traditionally this dish is prepared in a clay pot over a charcoal fire, but these days it is usually prepared stove top and served in a clay pot for presentation.

Instructions

  1. 1Marinate pork with fish sauce, ginger, scallions, chilis and pepper. Leave for one hour.
  2. 2Caramel syrup: heat the sugar in a pan over high heat; stir until it melts and then turns golden brown. Immediately pour water to the syrup. Add pork (and coconut if using).
  3. 3Reduce heat to low and simmer, turning meat occasionally until the sauce is reduced and thickened and the meat is cooked through. This will take a lot longer for the pork belly than for sliced pork and will also depend on how large the meat the is cubed (it could be as long as 30-45 minutes). You’ll know it’s done with the pork becomes a dark reddish caramelized color and the fat is somewhat transparent. If the pan starts drying before the meat is done, add another ¼ cup of water.
  4. 4Usually served with rice.
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