Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly)

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This savory pork braise is beloved across Vietnam. In the north, the dish is usually saltier, says chef Diep Tran, R&D chef for Red Boat Fish Sauce, while in the south, the braise tends to be sweeter. The blanched cabbage is a good accompaniment for the fall and winter months; during spring, blanched snap peas and green beans are great options; in the summer, pair this kho with fresh slices of Persian cucumbers.

Kho (Braised Vietnamese Minced Pork) with Cabbage
Photo: Anna Stockwell
Prep Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Servings:
4

Ingredients

For the Kho

  • 1 cup hot water

  • 1 tablespoon dried shrimp

  • 1 pound pork belly, cut into ¼-inch cubes or ¼-inch-thick short strips

  • ½ cup minced shallot (from about 1 large shallot)

  • ¼ cup minced garlic (about 12 cloves)

  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar or granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as Red Boat)

  • 1 - 3 Thai chiles, minced

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Freshly cooked white rice, for serving

For the Blanched Cabbage

  • 6 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger (from one 2-inch piece)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 small green cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Directions

  1. Make the Kho: In a small bowl, soak dried shrimp in 1/4 cup hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and mince; set aside.

  2. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat until the pot is screaming hot, about 3 minutes. Add the pork belly in a single layer, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook until the pork is golden-brown and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Uncover the pot and stir the pork to release any pieces that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Transfer the pork to a bowl with a slotted spoon, remove and transfer the pork into a mixing bowl, leaving only the rendered fat in the pot.

  3. Add the shallots and garlic to the reserved fat in the pot. Gently saute over low heat, stirring frequently, until shallot mixture is lightly golden-brown and toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the sugar, fish sauce, minced dried shrimp, chiles, black pepper, and 1/4 cup water. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the mixture turns a deep caramel color, about 10 minutes.

  5. Return the pork belly to the pot, and stir in 1/2 cup water. Bring pork mixture to a boil, cover and then reduce the heat to low and braise the pork until the liquid thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes.

  6. While the pork simmers, prepare the Blanched Cabbage: In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water, ginger, and salt to a boil. While the water comes to a boil, cut the cabbage into 6 wedges. Remove most of the core, leaving just enough to hold the leaves on each wedge together. When the water begins to boil, add half the cabbage. Boil until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, then remove from the water and transfer to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining cabbage.

  7. Serve kho spooned over warm rice, with the boiled cabbage alongside.

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