Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Thit Kho Tau

This is a Vietnamese recipe which I first saw on the site Jessie and the Giant Plate and is basically pork braised in a caramel sauce with boiled eggs.

As in China (that has it’s own version of this), there are lots of pigs in Vietnam meaning that a lot of pork is eaten - and as pork has an affinity with sweetness the Vietnamese also utilize caramelised sauces.

Most recipes call for belly pork but in the interests of my expanding waistline and wanting to be a bit healthier I swapped it for some pork shoulder from the butcher, asking for it to still have some fat on it - which it did but nowhere near as much as belly.

The original recipe also used coconut milk and water but a few others I saw said to use coconut juice so that was what I hunted down: it was actually very hard to get hold of in the end (although saying that typically my local Tesco has just added it to it’s shelves!) before I had the brainwave of trying my local little South American shop (SE1 has a very large Latin American population) where I came up trumps.

As coconut juice or water is getting a bit of a reputation for being super healthy (apparently it is very high in antioxidants and contains more potassium than two bananas as well as being fat-free) I reckon it could probably also be found in health food stores.

I have also seen a version that uses 7Up but otherwise I’m sure a coconut milk and water combo or even just water would be fine

I used ready hardboiled quails eggs here but small normal eggs could be used instead, obviously just hard boil them yourself.

Other variations on the name that I’ve seen seem to be Thit Heo Kho Trung and Thit Heo Kho Voi Trung as well as just Khit Tho but Thit Kho Tau is the name used in the original recipe I saw so I’ll go with that.

Thit Kho Tau (Pork and Quail’s Eggs in a Caramel Sauce)
Serves 2

250g of belly pork
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1½ tbsps of sugar
½ tbsp water
½ can of coconut juice
6 quail’s eggs
salt and white pepper

Cut the pork into ½ inch chunks, trying to make sure that each bit has a bit of fat on it. Put in a small bowl with the finely chopped spring onion, minced garlic, fish sauce and some salt & pepper. Mix well and set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or casserole, heat the sugar and water until the sugar is caramelising.

Add the pork & its marinade and cook, stirring for a few minutes until the pork is changing colour.

Add the coconut juice and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, partially covered for about 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, and topping up the liquid if it reduces too much.

Prick the quails eggs about 6 times all over with a toothpick (so they’ll absorb flavours from the lovely sauce), add them to the pot and cook for a further 30 mins.

Serve with plain white basmati or long grain rice. I also added some Sichuan pickled vegetable on the side to add some contrasting texture and to offset the richness of the dish.

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