Pork Belly

Holiday Thit Kho Trung (Extra-Special Caramelized Pork for the Lunar New Year)

October 19, 2021
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Photo by Bette Blau. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 2 hours 50 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

When I think of my mother, I think of this dish, especially during Tết, the Lunar New Year. The celebration goes on for at least a week, with the first few days reserved for spending time with family without the distraction of work or even turning on the stove. With restaurants across the country closed for the holiday, it pays to have a big batch of something made in advance that you can reheat for a crowd. For us and so many other Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans, Tết isn’t Tết without a bowl (or two, or three) of a beloved holiday kho with generous pieces of skin-on pork belly. For a leaner kho, you can replace half the belly with pork shoulder. —Red Boat Fish Sauce

Test Kitchen Notes

Excerpted with permission from The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook: Beloved Recipes from the Family Behind the Purest Fish Sauce. © 2021 by Cuong Pham, with Tien Nguyen and Diep Tran. Photography © 2021 by Oriana Koren. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds skin-on pork belly, sliced into large pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cups Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • 1 (12-ounce) can coconut soda, or 16 ounces coconut water plus 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, to taste
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  • 2 cucumbers, sliced, for serving
  1. Place the pork in a medium pot with enough water to cover the meat by 1 inch, about 2 quarts. Add the salt. Boil for 10 minutes to remove the impurities from the pork, then drain and rinse the meat, scrubbing each piece to remove any remaining impurities.
  2. Transfer the pork back to the pot and place over medium heat. Add 1⁄3 cup of fish sauce and the coconut soda (or the coconut water plus 1 tablespoon of sugar), cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. After about 30 minutes, the pork will begin to brown. At that point, add enough water to cover the pork by 1 inch and stir. Continue simmering, partially uncovered, for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the pork is tender and cooked through.
  4. Add the hard-boiled eggs and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning: Add additional fish sauce or sugar if needed; you can also add more water if you’d like the liquid to be a little looser. Serve with steamed rice and cucumbers. Tip: The thịt will taste even better the next day and the day after that. To save your leftovers, place everything in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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