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Friday, October 16, 2009

Recipe: Vietnamese caramelised pork belly (thit kho)

After a fascinating tour of Cabramatta with Sydney chef Luke Nguyen, we stumbled upon an outdoor kichen set-up in the local mall. Only then were we told that we would be shopping and cooking dishes to share with everyone for lunch.

I was instantly drawn to the caramelised pork belly, a favourite dish of mine, and one I was keen to learn how to recreate at home.

Cooking in public on portable gas burners was much less of a challenge than it would first appear. Given the time restriction, we only had time to marinate the meat for about ten minutes, but the resultant dish still tasted incredible, the pork both sweet and salty with a melting softness. It's best to allow the meat to marinate for the hour suggested though, to maximise all the flavour the marinade imparts. The sticky sauce is best mopped up with grains of fluffy white rice. Bliss.

The only problem with cooking this dish and making sure you cook enough. It really is that good.

Caramelised pork belly braised in young coconut juice

Caramelised pork belly
braised in young coconut juice
(thit kho)
from Luke Nguyen's Cabramatta Tour

300g pork belly, sliced thinly
1 whole green young coconut
2 tablespoons finely diced red Asian shallot
2 tablespoons finely diced garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon thick caramel sauce (Elephant brand)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 fresh chilli, sliced

In a bowl, combine salt, sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, caramel sauce and half of the red shallots and half of the diced garlic. Mix well until sugar dissolves. Coat the pork belly with the sauce and marinate for one hour. When marinated, drain the pork reserving the marinade sauce.

In a hot saucepan or clay pot, add oil, then fry the remaining red shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add the pork belly and brown both sides, for about 1 minute per side. Now add the reserved marinade and stir well.

Add 1 cup of young coconut juice and bring to the boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to half.

Turn off heat, then add black pepper and stir.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with sliced chilli.

Related GrabYourFork posts:
SIFF 2009 - Luke Nguyen's Cabramatta Food Tour

SIFF 2009 - Nose-to-tail barbecue with Fergus Henderson
SIFF 2009 - Sugar Hit at Azuma Kushiyaki
SIFF 2009 - World Chef Showcase
14 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/16/2009 01:13:00 am


  • At 10/16/2009 8:55 am, Anonymous shez said…

    Oh! I was hoping you'd post this recipe as it was the one I was the most interested in. It looks (and sounds) absolutely delicious.

  • At 10/16/2009 9:21 am, Anonymous Leona said…

    ive never had caramaelised pork belly where on earth have I been living? I just love the colour of that dish.

  • At 10/16/2009 9:27 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    This is one of my favourite dishes, we make my Mum make it atleast once a month and it's handy to have in the freezer! Tastes good with some hard boil eggs or quail eggs too.

  • At 10/16/2009 10:46 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    That looks mouthwateringly good, the colour is amazing, I can just imagine how rich and sticky the sauce is! And it doesn't seem too hard to throw together :)

  • At 10/16/2009 11:57 am, Anonymous clekitty said…

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe! I agree with Howard, could be good with some hard boiled eggs :D

  • At 10/16/2009 12:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love this dish. I'm sure I have a simpler version which is lovely. Will have to dig it out!

  • At 10/16/2009 10:14 pm, Anonymous Y said…

    Gleefully bookmarked!

  • At 10/17/2009 1:48 am, Blogger Deb said…

    Thanks so much :) Caramelised and pork belly are two concepts that I'm perfectly happy to try to cook and eat!

  • At 10/17/2009 8:29 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    Thank you so much for this recipe, I tried it out tonight and it was a total success!


  • At 10/18/2009 1:34 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Shez - Ah yes, the caramelised pork looks to be the readers' choice! It is delicious, especially all the sweet saucy bits soaking into your rice. Yum!

    Hi Leona - Oh dear you must rectify this immediately! It's called thit kho in Vietnamese.

    Hi Howard - Lucky you! I don't blame you ordering this once a month! A friend of mine's mum makes this with hard-boiled eggs too, and apparently her secret ingredient is Fanta!

    Hi Stephcookie - It's a reasonably easy recipe - I think the hardest bit is sourcing and opening the young green coconut!

    Hi clekitty - Eggs are a great addition to this dish. Mmm now I'm craving this again - might have to make up a batch myself soon!

    Hi Jax - Do share your simpler version. Can never have too many options when it comes to recipes!

    Hi Y - lol. Hope you enjoy it :)

    Hi Food.4.two - I say my sweet tooth is lessening but as you say, caramel and pork belly are too good to resist.

    Hi YaYa - Wow, that was fast! Yours looks great - the sauce is so tasty isn't it?

  • At 10/19/2009 12:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen - where can I buy the caramel sauce? Looked everywhere in Chinatown but to no avail!

  • At 10/20/2009 1:08 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Your need this thick caramel sauce. I found this at Everspring on Sussex Street (near the soy sauce on the bottom shelf) but you should also be able to get it at Thai Kee in Market City which has a huge range of Asian products.

  • At 7/12/2010 8:02 pm, Anonymous Ivan said…

    Helen! I've made this multiple times, so for all the times I've been saved from starvation by caramelised pork belly, I thank you for sharing the recipe. Incidentally, you also granted me a Beef & Beer Masterclass @ Mumu Grill in a competition! So I really have to THANK YOU for being the food blogger who keeps giving and only asks for a bit of comment love in return. You are gold. :)

  • At 7/13/2010 1:58 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Ivan - So glad to hear you've had much recipe with this recipe. Pork belly and caramel - how can you go wrong! And thank you for your very kind words :) Always a pleasure!


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