Thit Kho Tau (Vietnamese braised pork belly)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 18/01/2023 Updated: 01/12/2023
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 3 hours
Total 3 hours 30 minutes
Thit kho tau or Vietnamese braised pork belly is the ultimate comfort food! Made with tender caramelized pork belly and boiled eggs, this thit kho tau recipe will be an fan favorite.
Thit Kho Tau (Vietnamese braised pork belly)

Thit kho tau or Vietnamese braised pork belly is the ultimate comfort food! Made with tender caramelized pork belly and boiled eggs, this thit kho tau recipe will be an instant favorite.

A pair of chopsticks lifting up a piece of Vietnamese braised pork belly.

Growing up, whenever I asked any of my Vietnamese friends and family what their favorite dish was—it was always thit kho, aka Vietnamese braised pork belly. The soft caramelized, braised pork belly paired with the boiled eggs in an umami-rich, sweet, and savory sauce topped on a bed of warm white rice makes this dish irresistible.

Thit kho tau is normally served during Tết or Lunar new year but honestly, it is so good that you’ll want to make it regularly throughout the year too! Plus, this Vietnamese pork belly recipe is very easy to follow with only a few basic ingredients.

This thit kho tau recipe is similar to my other Vietnamese thit kho recipe except this one is made with pork belly instead of spare ribs and this recipe uses coco rico instead of coconut water. If you want to opt for a less fatty and quicker version, check out my thit kho recipe. And if you are looking for more Vietnamese lunar new year foods inspiration, check out my banh chung and xoi gac recipes.

A bowl of Vietnamese braised pork belly and eggs on a table.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Ultimate comfort food. Thit kho tau is the ultimate Vietnamese comfort food that will instantly make you feel good with the first bite.
  • Good for meal prep. You can easily double or triple the recipe to meal prep this Vietnamese caramelized pork for the week.
  • Instant crowd pleaser. This Vietnamese pork belly dish will be an instant hit if you are serving it for your Lunar New Year celebration.
A bowl of thit kho tau on a table surrounded by table settings.

Kitchen Equipment

This thit kho tau recipe only requires a couple of items of kitchen equipment.

  • Large Mixing Bowl: you will need a large mixing bowl to marinate the pork belly.
  • Large Pot with lid: you will need a large pot to hold the 3 lbs of pork belly and 6 boiled eggs.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this Vietnamese thit kho tau recipe at your local grocery market or online.

  • Pork Belly: pork belly is the main protein of this Vietnamese caramelized pork recipe. You can also mix in pork leg as well.
  • Salt and pepper: marinate and season the pork belly.
  • Sugar: the sugar balances out the savoriness of the dish and adds a touch of sweetness for that perfect savory and sweet balance.
  • Garlic and Shallot: garlic and shallots are the main aromatics for this thit kho recipe.
  • Eggs: you can add more or reduce the number of eggs based on your preference.
  • Coco Rico Soda: coco rico soda is a popular ingredient in Vietnamese cooking. It will be the main ingredient in breaking down the pork belly and creating the sweet and savory addicting sauce.
  • Fish sauce: this would not be a traditional Vietnamese dish without fish sauce! Fish sauce adds a delicious salty and umami finish to this thit kho tau recipe. My favorite brands are Red Boat Fish sauce and Three Crabs fish sauce
All the ingredients for thit kho tau organized and labeled on a table.

Substitutions

This Vietnamese thit kho recipe only has a few ingredients in it so there are not very many substitutions.

  • Caramelized sugar and coconut juice: if you cannot find coco rico near you, you can opt for the caramelized sugar and coconut juice method instead. The steps for that process can be found here.
  • Pork shoulder: for a less fatty dish, you can substitute 1/2 of the pork belly with a pound of pork shoulder.

How to Make Thit Kho Tau

This Vietnamese braised pork belly recipe is really easy to make. The hardest part is waiting for the meat to caramelize!

  1. Parboil the pork belly. In a large pot, add the pork belly and cover with water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and then boil the pork belly for 3 minutes then remove the pork belly and set aside.
Par boiling the sliced pork belly in a large pot of water with salt.
  1. Marinate the pork belly. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, salt, pepper, sliced garlic, minced shallot, and pork belly. Mix thoroughly to coat the pork and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Par boiled pork belly marinating in a glass bowl.
  1. Cook the eggs. While the pork belly is marinating, heat a large pot of water to a boil. Gently place the eggs into the water with a slotted spoon and boil for 10 minutes. Then remove the eggs and soak them in ice water for 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and set aside.
Boiling large eggs in a pot of water.
  1. Cook the pork belly. Transfer the pork belly with the garlic and shallots into a large pot. Then add the coco rico soda until it covers the pork about 1 inch on top. Bring the pot to a boil on high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium heat and cover the pot and simmer the pork for 1 1/2 hours.
Adding coco rico to the marinated pork belly.
  1. Add the eggs and fish sauce. After 1 1/2 hours, skim the scum off the surface of the pot. Then add the eggs and fish sauce and cover the pot and continue simmering for another 1 1/2 hours until the sauce turns brown and the pork is tender.
  1. Serve. Serve immediately with rice and pickled greens!
Up close with a bowl of Vietnamese thit kho tau.

Tips for the Best Thit Kho Tau

  • Marinate the pork for a minimum of 30 minutes and max overnight. This will ensure the pork will have time to absorb some of the marinade’s flavor. If you are going to marinate the meat for longer than 30 minutes, I recommend covering and marinating the meat in the refrigerator.
  • Parboil the pork belly. Pork belly has a lot of fat in it. Parboiling the pork belly removes all the impurities and scum from the meat and aids in getting a clear sauce as a final result.
  • Adjust the fish sauce to taste. The final Vietnamese caramelized pork belly flavor will depend on your preferences. If you want a saltier dish add a dash more fish sauce. If you’d like it to be sweeter, add a dash of sugar.
  • Be patient! Pork belly takes time to braise in the coco rico in order to achieve that caramelized melt-in-your-mouth effect.

Storage Instructions

This thit kho recipe is best served immediately. However, if you have any leftover Vietnamese caramelized pork and eggs, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Once refrigerated the fat will coagulate and solidify at the top. It will dissolve into a sauce once you reheat it in the microwave or on the stove.

Alternatively, you can store the Vietnamese braised pork belly in a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw the thit kho in the refrigerator overnight and microwave or heat it on a stove until warm.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

Why do you need to parboil the pork belly?

Parboiling or blanching the pork belly is optional, however, I recommend it because think of it as a filtering system of extracting all the dirty scum out of the pork early on so it will not be cooking in your sauce later on.

What does thịt kho mean in Vietnamese?

Thịt kho roughly translates to braised meat. However, most Vietnamese people associate thịt kho with a braised pork dish and not braised with any other meat.

What do you eat with thit kho tau?

Typically, you will serve this thit kho tau recipe with a bowl of steamed white rice and a side of pickled mustard greens. This Vietnamese pork belly dish is a very popular dish that is most commonly served during the lunar new year.

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Recipe

Up close with a bowl of Vietnamese thit kho tau.

Thit Kho Tau (Vietnamese braised pork belly)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Thit kho tau or Vietnamese braised pork belly is the ultimate comfort food! Made with tender caramelized pork belly and boiled eggs, this thit kho tau recipe will be an fan favorite.
Servings: 6 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs pork belly washed and sliced into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon salt for parboil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon salt for marinade
  • 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 6 large eggs
  • 10 cans (12 fl oz each) Coco Rico soda
  • ½ cup fish sauce

Instructions

  • Parboil the pork belly. In a large pot, add the pork belly and cover with water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and then boil the pork belly for 3 minute then remove the pork belly, rinse with clean water, and pat dry.
  • Marinate the pork belly. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, salt, pepper, sliced garlic, minced shallot and pork belly. Mix thoroughly to coat the pork and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Cook the eggs. While the pork belly is marinating, heat a large pot of water to a boil. Gently place the eggs into the water with a slotted spoon and boil for 10 minutes. Then remove the eggs and soak them in ice water for 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and set aside.
  • Cook the pork belly. Transfer the pork belly with the garlic and shallots into a large pot. Then add the coco rico soda until it covers the pork about 1 inch on top. Bring the pot to a boil on high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium heat and cover the pot and simmer the pork for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Add the eggs and fish sauce. After 1 1/2 hours, skim the scum off the surface of the pot. Then add the eggs and fish sauce and cover the pot and continue simmering for another 1 1/2 hours until the sauce turns brown and the pork is tender. Taste to see if more fish sauce or salt is needed.
  • Serve. Serve immediately with rice and pickled greens!

Notes

  • Marinate the pork for a minimum of 30 minutes and max overnight. This will ensure the pork will have time to absorb some of the marinade’s flavor. If you are going to marinate the meat for longer than 30 minutes, I recommend covering and marinating the meat in the refrigerator.
  • Parboil the pork belly. Pork belly has a lot of fat in it. Parboiling the pork belly removes all the impurities and scum from the meat and aids in getting a clear sauce as a final result.
  • Adjust the fish sauce to taste. The final Vietnamese caramelized pork belly flavor will depend on your preferences. If you want a saltier dish add a dash more fish sauce. If you’d like it to be sweeter, add a dash of sugar.
  • Be patient! Pork belly takes time to braise in the coco rico in order to achieve that caramelized melt-in-your-mouth effect.
  • Storage Instructions: This thit kho recipe is best served immediately. However, if you have any leftover Vietnamese caramelized pork and eggs, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Once refrigerated the fat will coagulate and solidify at the top. It will dissolve into a sauce once you reheat it in the microwave or on the stove. Alternatively, you can store the Vietnamese braised pork belly in a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw the thit kho in the refrigerator overnight and microwave or heat it on a stove until warm.

Nutrition:

Calories: 1298kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 125g | Saturated Fat: 45g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 58g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 349mg | Sodium: 5287mg | Potassium: 587mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 299IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2mg

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