Vietnamese "thit kho" is one of the most common and popular dish that one would encounter in any Vietnamese family dinners. Originate from the Southern part of Vietnam, it is one of the traditional dishes that I adore the most. Very simple and yet very mouthwatering and flavorful!
It's usually prepared in clay pots, which is an authentic way to prepare this dish and, therefore, the name "thit kho to" ("To" means clay pot). In a cold, rainy day, this is a perfect dish to go for with a bowl of white jasmine rice. The balance between the saltiness of fish sauce, the subtle sweetness of sugar and the spiciness of red chili peppers in combination of black pepper make your mouth want to savor every single bite.
Whenever I am away on a long vacation, this is the dish that I would long to come home to. Nothing fancy nor extravagant, just simplicity and full of nostalgia, and that is what I love about this dish.
1. 1 lb for pork meat (pork belly or pork shoulder cut)
2. 3 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
3. 6 tsp of fish sauce
4. 6 tsp of sugar
5. 1 tsp of mushroom seasoning
6. garlic powder, black pepper
7. red chili pepper and green onion for garnish
8. 2 extra tsp of sugar for caramel sauce
Slice the meat into bite-size pieces (about 1 inch wide and 1/3 inch thick). Add minced garlic, 4 tsp fish sauce, 4 tsp sugar, mushroom seasoning, garlic powder and black pepper to the pork. Mix to combine and set aside to let the meat marinade for at least a couple hours.
In a clay pot or a medium saucepan, add 2 tsp of sugar on medium high heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the sugar from burning. Let it melts and turns to caramel color before add in the meat. Once the amber color of caramel sauce is achieved, add in the marinated pork.
Turn the heat on high and stir quickly to combine the meat with the caramel. Let it cooks for about 10 minutes, stir occasionally and add a couple tablespoons of water if the liquid dried up. When the meat is all cooked through and turned to a dark honey color, add the remaining fish sauce and sugar (2 tsp each) to the meat. Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes until all the liquid has almost evaporated. Turn off the heat, garnish with red chili pepper, chopped green onion and black pepper. Serve hot with steamed rice.