My momma is probably one, if not the biggest, reason why I grew up to be such a food addict. Almost all my memories with her growing up took place in the kitchen or around food. She loves to cook. Sure, she had her traditional Vietnamese staples, but she also tried to recreate any dish she enjoyed or found intriguing (thanks Food Network). We had fish tacos every weekend for three months until she was satisfied with her recipe. Ha! But today’s recipe is not one of those. This is actually one of those aforementioned traditional Vietnamese staples. It’s something she would whip together on a regular ‘ole day and it was never a point of excitement as a kid.
Having grown up and moved out, it’s somewhat of a rarity to eat it now. It’s not commonly served in Vietnamese restaurants and definitely not at the trendy ones you can find on the westside. It’s a homecooked family meal through and through. Without further ado, here’s Mama Nguyen’s thịt kho trứng, or in other words, braised pork and eggs.
- 1 – 1 1/2 lb. of fresh pork belly or pork ribs
- 6 to 8 eggs
- 1 can Natural Coconut Flavored Soda (COCO RICO)
- Black pepper
- Cooking oil
Let’s get cooking!
Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, but leave the eggs in the pot for another 5 minutes. Then, place the eggs in a cold water to cool them down. Peel the eggs and use a tooth pick to poke a few holes all around each egg. We want all the delicious seasoning to be able to seep in.
Next, rinse off your cut of pork and pat it dry with a paper towel. Cut the pork into approximately one and a half inch squares. Sprinkle with some salt and black pepper.
Okay, so flip on your stovetop fans or open a window because it’s time to make our caramel! Which inevitably leads to some smoke rising off and if you’re in a teeny tiny Los Angeles apartment like me with the world’s most sensitive smoke alarm, you’ll want to pop a window or two.
Add 1 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of sugar to the dry pot and cook on high heat, stirring frequently until the sugar melts into a light brown liquid.
Quickly, stir in all the meat so the caramel doesn’t burn on the bottom. Caramel goes from delightful to smoky burnt rather quickly, so if you think you’re going to be a bit slow with the meat, feel free to flip off the heat, stir the meat in, then turn it back up.
When all the pieces of the meat turn light brown, pour in the full can of coconut soda and two cups of water. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper and one tablespoon sugar. Cover the pot.
As soon as the pot begins boiling, uncover it and skim away all the white foam off the surface. Add in the eggs and cover the pot once more. Bring the heat back down to low and let the dish simmer for about an hour, hour and a half – or until the water reduces almost to the bottom of the pot. This step largely depends on personal preference. If you like thicker sauce, allow it to cook for longer. Just know that leaner cuts of meat can dry out a little if you do. If you like a thinner, wetter sauce, take it off the heat sooner.
As always, season to taste as you go! This usually is enough for our family of five, so share with friends or you’re set with meal prep for the week. Traditionally, this dish is paired with rice (Mama says nothing beats white rice) and a pickled vegetable dish. Recipes for how to make those coming soon! Until then, happy eating!
Keto? Swap out all the sugar for stevia or erythritol and you’ll be good to go. Stick with the fattier pork belly to longer sustenance. You can get diet coco rico or maybe try a coconut flavored sparkling water instead, though you’ll have to up your other sweeteners to compensate for the sugar.
Want it even lower cal? Switch out pork belly for a much leaner cut like the rib or shoulder even.
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