Thit Heo Kho- Vietnamese Pork in Caramel Sauce

More than a couple friends and former roommates have marveled at my ability, or perhaps willingness is a better word, to eat the same thing over and over again.  The people who don’t like leftovers?  Don’t understand them.  At all.

I’d probably be happy to eat the same things over and over again for the rest of my life, but it’d make for one boring food blog.  Getting me out of my (admittedly contented) food rut was one of the biggest reasons for starting Girl Cooks World in the first place.

In my pre-blog life, I’d probably make the Ga Kho I recently posted every week for the next month or so, happily devouring it each and every time.  These days I have to do the next best thing: make something similar to practically guarantee success while trying something new.  Everybody wins.

These types of caramelized dishes, often cooked in clay pots in Vietnam, are popular for a reason: they’re quick simple to make and taste like you spent all day cooking.  The caramelized pork recipes that I found were all pretty basic so I decided to stick with the same basic formula that worked so well with the chicken, but just reduced the number of Thai chiles.  The garlic, fish sauce and sugar cooked down to create a sticky sauce with just a touch of heat. Pair it with some rice for an easy and surprisingly quick weeknight meal.

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Thit Heo Kho- Vietnamese Pork in Caramel Sauce

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

* 1-1/2 pounds boneless pork loin
* 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 inch piece peeled fresh ginger, grated (peeled, frozen ginger is easy to grate)
* 2-3 small shallots, minced (I used shallots about the size of ping pong ball)
* 1 Thai chile, sliced
* 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
* 2 Tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
* 1 Tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 teaspoon caramel color (optional, but check to make sure it's gluten-free if using)
* 1-2 green onions, finely sliced on the diagonal for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Cut the pork into large chunks and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the pieces are no longer pink. Push the pork to the perimeter of the saucepan and add the garlic, ginger, shallots and Thai chile. Cook for several minutes, until softened.

Combine the fish sauce, both sugars and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix.

Toss the pork and garlic mixture and then pour in the fish sauce mixture and stir to coat. Bring to a boil for a minute or two and then add the water and caramel color, if using. Adjust heat to a low simmer and then let the pork cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and the pork is cooked through.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with the green onion and serve with rice.

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5 Responses to “Thit Heo Kho- Vietnamese Pork in Caramel Sauce”

  1. #
    1
    Lynn — July 14, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I ordered Pork In Clay Pot a few months ago in HCMC, at Cuc Gach Quan (amazing)…and it seemed to have sauce as well. These ingredients sound perfect; should I just add a bit more water? At the end?

    Reply

    • CATE — July 14th, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

      Hi Lynn- I'd probably suggest you add extra water when you add the initial 1/4 cup and just stop it before it boils down really thick. Hope it works for you and reminds you of your meal in HCMC :)

      Reply

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    2
    ttp5000 — July 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I find that using pork shoulder delivers a much tastier result. Cooking with coconut soda (to yield sauce) and boiled eggs adds a different twist on this dish as well.

    Reply

    • CATE — July 30th, 2012 @ 6:47 am

      Thanks for your tips :) And I did see that some kho dishes used coconut soda, specifically the Coco Rico brand. I'll have to try it next time! And thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Reply

  3. #
    3
    Federica — February 14, 2014 at 4:20 am

    Hi,
    your recipe is amazing and I really want to try it, but I don’t have the fish sauce… can I substitute with the soy sauce? Or with another sauce? XXX Federica from Italy

    Reply

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