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VIETNAM: Thit kho trung

photos by Wendy Chow/Globe Staff


Hai Vo and his wife, Nhung Doan (below), run the popular N&H Saigon Sub, where patrons rave about the bánh mì sandwiches, noodle dishes, and bubble tea. Not on the menu, but available to those in the know, are other traditional Vietnamese dishes such as rice flour rolls and sticky rice tubes stuffed with dried shrimp and wrapped in banana leaves. For Tet, the Vietnamese name for the Lunar New Year, the braised pork dish thit kho trung “is a served at almost every home,” Vo said. Most Vietnamese restaurants in the United States don’t offer it, he said, because it’s labor intensive. It is, however, available at N&H because Vo and his family enjoy it. Use pork butt or pork belly, which are well marbled, to ensure a moist and flavorful dish.

Thit kho trung (caramelized braised pork with hard-boiled eggs)

2pounds pork butt with fat and skin attached, cut into 2-inch cubes
2tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
3garlic cloves, crushed
1teaspoon salt
2cups coconut juice, fresh or canned
3tablespoons sugar
1tablespoon water
6eggs, hard boiled and peeled
fish sauce to taste

Make the caramel: In a heavy saucepan, stir the sugar and water over medium heat until sugar melts, and monitor closely until it turns a dark golden brown. Take off the heat immediately and set aside.

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In a braising pot, heat the fat or oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the pork and salt. Brown well.

Add the caramel and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the coconut juice. It should barely cover the pork. Partially cover the pot and braise the pork for an hour or more, until the pork is just tender. Reduce the heat if necessary.

Add the whole eggs and simmer for another half hour.

Add fish sauce. Serve with rice and pickled vegetables.

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