Vietnamese people really like traditional kho dishes. It is a technique which means to braise, poach, steam and slow-cook meat, fish, tofu or vegetables all together in one – traditionally clay – pot. It’s easy, efficient and makes for some really flavoursome dishes. Kho foods are comforting and will remind a lot of Vietnamese of home and of eating with their parents from childhood to adulthood. This dish is usually cooked with having leftovers in mind, especially as the flavour improves after a few days, so it’s ideal to keep in the fridge and enjoy later.
- Put the pork pieces in a bowl. Mix together the shallots, garlic, salt and pepper, add to the bowl and mix together well.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the surface of the pan. Watch over the pan for the sugar to caramelise. Resist the urge to stir. It should take 3 ½–4 minutes. Don’t walk away or it will burn. As soon it becomes a golden colour, watch for it to slightly darken, then quickly add the pork to brown off. Let it sit for a minute, then stir, repeating until all sides are coloured.
- Pour the coconut juice or water over the pork, cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Skim off any scum.
- Meanwhile hard-boil and peel the eggs, then add them to the pan with the whole chillies and black pepper. Cover and simmer over a low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with fish sauce, coconut syrup or sugar and more black pepper and cook for a further 15 minutes.
- Serve with steamed rice and plenty of vegetables.
- Notes: If you don’t have coconut water, use water, adding sweetness to taste. You can also use cider or lemonade.
Recipes excerpted with permission Vietnamese by Uyen Luu, published by Hardie Grant Books May 2021, RRP $32.50 Hardcover. Photos by Uyen Luu.