The caramel sauce infuses the pork and hard-boiled eggs with a slightly sweet, deeply rich flavor that can only be achieved by braising for a long time.
The coconut juice will mostly cook off, leaving behind a slight sweetness to add depth to the pork. If you don’t want any coconut juice at all, then simply substitute with water.
For a 2-quart pot, you’ll need:
**** Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese Caramel Sauce) OR use dark soy sauce, may be just 1/2 teaspoon is enough.
2 tblsp sugar
1/4 cup water
Heat pot to medium-high and add 2 tblsp sugar to pot with about 1/4 cup water.
Stir until mixed and sugar dissolved. In about 10 minutes or so, the sugar will start to turn brown. Add hot water. BE CAREFUL not to burn yourself when adding water since it may splashes . 2 tblsp of sugar made enough caramel sauce for a 2- to 5-quart stock pot. *****
Ingredients: for 2 persons
* 1 lb pork belly or shoulder, sliced into two-inch chunks
NOTE: It’s best to use pork belly. If not, buy pork shoulder when it comes on sale (less than 1.99$/ lb. You’ll have to remove the bone embedded inside the piece of meat. You can use the bone to make a broth for “canh” (soup) or put it in your thit kho.
* 3 hard-boiled eggs or more if you’d like ( make them a bit under cooked since you’re going to put it in the pot for another 10-15 min),
* 1 medium onion, sliced or diced, and/or a few cloves of garlic if you wish
* 1 Tsp of Oil
* 1 cup fresh coconut juice, or substitute with Coco Rico
* About 1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce), or more according to taste
* 2 tsp salt, separated for marinade and the broth.
* 2 Tbsp of sugar, separated.
* 1 tsp ground black pepper
* 1 tsp of bot nem (vegetable seasoning powder)
* 1/2 tsp onion powder + 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp of oyster sauce.
- Wash the meat pieces in salted water (rub the pieces to really wash them well), rinse. Repeat 1-2 times so that you don’t smell the pork smell anymore.
- Marinade the meat with onion + garlic powder + sugar + salt + seasoning powder + pepper. Mix well Leave it in the frig for at least 1 hr. If you can, mix again after 20 min.
- Make your nuoc mau (caramel). Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion. Stir until slightly golden. Add garlic .
- Add meat pieces. Increase heat to medium high or high. Let them sit for a bit to brown them slightly then turn to brown the other face.
- Add dark soy sauce or nuoc mau + oyster sauce + 1 Tsp of water or more so that the liquid covers about 1/2 the thickness of the meat + a bit of vegetable seasoning powder + sugar . Bring to simmer. Cover and reduce heat.
- Check after 15 min for taste. Add fish sauce if you wish and adjust taste. Check every 15 min or so, add water if the level is too low to avoid burning the meat. It usually takes about 1 hr for the meat to be really fall-off-the-bone tender.
- This is the difficult part to judge: When you see that the meat is tender enough but still needs some more simmering, add the eggs. Again, turn them after 5-7 min so that they are evenly colored all around. You may want to increase the heat toward the end of your cooking time to make the meat absorb more of the liquid. It will be more tasty. WATCH carefully so no burning occurs and ruin your efforts.