Thit Kho Tau (Northern-style Vietnamese Caramelized Pork & Eggs)

Thịt Kho Tàu (Northern Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly & Eggs)

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Thịt Kho Tàu? This fantastic Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly & Eggs dish is a hit all across Vietnam, from the North to the South. Today, I would like to share with you the Northern twist on this dish – it might not be as well-known as the Southern version, which is much more popular on the internet, but trust me, it’s just as delicious!

Thit Kho Tau (Northern-style Vietnamese Caramelized Pork & Eggs)

🙋‍♀️ What is Thịt Kho Tàu?

Thịt Kho Tàu in Vietnam is also called Thịt Kho or Thịt Kho Trứng . It’s a popular dish in typical Vietnamese meals, enjoyed from the North to the South, with some variations between the regions.

Thit Kho Tau (Northern-style Vietnamese Caramelized Pork & Eggs)

Actually, there is still some debate in Vietnam about the origin of “Thịt Kho Tàu”. Since “Tàu” in Vietnamese could mean “Chinese” or “Boat,” some people say it’s inspired by Chinese Dong Po Rou , while many others believe it originated from Vietnamese fishermen cooking meat on their boats.

🌟 More Vietnamese “Kho” dishes

“Kho” in Vietnamese can mean “to braise,” “to stew,” or “to simmer,” which is why you’ll find many “kho” dishes in Vietnamese cuisine that don’t look identical.

Like Bò Kho , which is a delightful beef stew, and then there’s Thịt Kho and Cá Kho, meaning “braised pork/fish” in a lip-smacking caramelized sauce.

Bowl of Hu Tieu Bo Kho: A delicious Vietnamese beef stew served with Hu Tieu noodles, carrots, and onions.
Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

Sometimes we name the dish after aromatic ingredients. Ever tried Gà Kho Gừng (Ginger Caramelized/Braised Chicken)? Or how about Thịt Kho Tiêu (Pepper Caramelized Pork)? And don’t forget Cá Kho Riềng (Galangal Caramelized Fish).

Delicious "thit kho tieu": Caramelized pork simmered in a rich sauce infused with black pepper and served with steamed rice. The tender and flavorful pork is garnished with scallions, creating a visually enticing and mouthwatering dish
Thịt Kho Tiêu (Pepper Caramelized Pork)

If you are curious about how to use herbal aromatics in Vietnamese cuisine , you can explore more about Vietnamese herbs.

Every family, every mom has their unique take on Thịt Kho, which gets passed down to the kids. But normally we keep it simple with fish sauce, shallots, garlic and green onions.

🌟 Nothern-Style vs. Southern-Style

There are a few tiny differences between the Northern Thịt Kho Tàu and the Southern Thịt Kho Tàu. I’ve noticed that the Southern one seems to steal the spotlight on the internet. My guess is because most Việt Kiều (Overseas Vietnamese) in North America hail from the South.

Honestly, I’ve got a soft spot for both versions, but let me kick things off by sharing the less popular one. It’s the recipe I learned from my friends in Hanoi during my short time living there.

Everyone loves enjoying Thịt Kho Tàu in their family meals, but what are the differences?

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Northern Thịt Kho TàuSouthern Thịt Kho Tàu
Flavor ProfileLess sweetSlightly sweeter
ConsistencyLess liquidMore liquid
ColorDarker color due to more Vietnamese caramel sauce (nước màu)Lighter color
Egg VariationFried boiled or crispy fried eggsBoiled eggs, often duck eggs (also called “Thịt Kho Hột Vịt”)
Meat VariationPork Belly or Roasted Pork BellyPork Belly or Pork Butt
Regional PreferencePaired with steamed sticky rice for breakfastA festive dish during Tet Holidays (Lunar New Year)
Usage of Coconut WaterNot commonly usedFrequently incorporated in cooking
Differences between Nothern Thịt Kho & Southern Thịt Kho

More Northern Vietnamese Delicacies:

🥩 Ingredients

For the Northern-style Thịt Kho (Caramelized Pork & Eggs), you’ll only need a handful of ingredients:

Ingredients for Thit Kho Tau: Pork Belly, Eggs, Fish Sauce, Sugar, Vietnamese Caramel Sauce, Chicken Powder, Shallots

Pork Belly: Choose a well-balanced cut with a good ratio of meat to fat. If you’re not a fan of eating fat, pork shoulder is another option.

Eggs: In Northern Thịt Kho, we use fried boiled eggs (similar to Chinese Tiger Skin Eggs). The crispy skin helps the eggs absorb the sauce more effectively. Besides, you could use quail eggs.

Vietnamese Caramel Sauce (Nước Màu): Traditionally made by caramelizing sugar, you could substitute it with molasses.

Fish Sauce: An essential umami-rich ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine.

Shallots: You could substitute them with the white part of green onions, but no regular onions.

Sugar: Adjust the amount according to your preference for sweetness.

Chicken Powder: Adds more savory and umami flavors to the dish.

📝 Instructions

PARBOIL AND MARINATE THE PORK:

  1. Place the pork in a pot. Fill the pot with water until it just covers the pork, then add 1/2 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of vinegar.
  2. Bring the pot to high heat. Once the water starts boiling, let it boil for about 2 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse the pork under running water.
Parboil the pork belly
Pork Belly in a glass bowl
  1. Cut the pork belly into 1.5″ (3.5 cm) cubes.
  2. Mix the pork with fish sauce, Vietnamese caramel sauce, sugar, and minced shallots. Set it aside for at least 30 minutes.
Marinated pork belly

BOIL THE EGGS:

  1. I usually boil the eggs for around six and a half minutes from cold water. However, you can stick to your usual egg-boiling method. Once boiled, transfer the eggs to cold water to cool them down.
  2. Peel the eggs, then use kitchen papers to pat dry them, absorbing any excess water.
  3. To prevent the eggs from exploding when frying: air fry the boiled eggs or bake them in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 3 minutes. If you use the oven, preheat the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Pat them dry with kitchen paper one last time before frying.
Boiling eggs
Air frying eggs

FRY THE EGGS:

  1. You could deep-fry the eggs (the crispy skin covers the entire egg) or pan-fry the eggs, using less oil.
  2. I deep-fry the eggs when cooking Chinese Tiger Eggs , but here I pan-fry them. The outcome is quite satisfactory.
Pan-frying boiled eggs
pan-frying eggs
Friy hard-boiled eggs in cooking oil
deep-frying eggs

SIMMER THE PORK & EGGS:

  1. In a pot, add 1 tbsp of cooking oil. Sauté the pork until it’s cooked on the outside. Pour in enough water (about 2.5 cup / 600ml) to just cover the pork.
  2. Simmer the meat over medium heat until the sauce thickens to about halfway.
  3. Add the eggs. Season again with some fish sauce, sugar, chicken powder, and perhaps some Vietnamese caramel sauce if you prefer your thịt kho to have a darker hue.
  4. Simmer for around 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Give it one final seasoning, remembering that your thịt kho should be a bit saltier than your desired flavor since it will be diluted when enjoyed with rice.
Simmering pork belly in a pot
Pork Belly and Eggs in a pot
Vietnamese Braised Pork & Eggs (Thit Kho Trung Northern Style)

🥢 How to serve Thịt Kho

Thịt Kho is a popular dish in a typical Vietnamese meal. It’s usually served with steamed Jasmine rice (My quick and easy microwaved Jasmine rice could help), a Vietnamese light soup (canh), and a Vietnamese side dish to create a well-balanced meal.

Delicious bowl of fluffy jasmine rice ready to be savored
Microwaved Jasmine Rice

Besides Thịt Kho, which pairs wonderfully with jasmine rice, I’ve also created a collection of recipes with jasmine rice for rice lovers.

In Hanoi, locals also love enjoying Thịt Kho with Xôi (sticky rice) for breakfast. Try my time-saving recipe for Instant Pot Sticky Rice ; it’s perfect for busy kitchens.

My Hanoi food guide is a handy companion for your trip, helping you explore the vibrant food culture in the city.

Steaming hot cooked sticky rice served on a plate.
Instant Pot Sticky Rice

Where to try “Xôi Thịt Kho” in Hanoi

Xôi Bà Thu (57 Thợ Nhuộm Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi)
Xôi Bà Hồng (2 Hàng Than Street, Ba Đình District, Hanoi)
Xôi Ông Hòa (Alley 67, Bạch Đằng Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi)

MORE CLASSIC VIETNAMESE DISHES:

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Thit Kho Tau (Northern-style Vietnamese Caramelized Pork & Eggs)

Thịt Kho Tàu (Northern Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly & Eggs)

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Thịt Kho Tàu (Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly & Eggs) is beloved from North to South in Vietnam. Though the Northern version may not have the online fame of the Southern one, rest assured, it's equally delicious!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Family meal
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1.1 pound pork belly (500g)
  • 4 eggs (to your preference)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (to your taste)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (to your taste)
  • ½ tbsp chicken powder (to your taste)
  • 1 tbsp Vietnamese Caramel Sauce (Nước Màu) (or Molasses) (to your preference)
  • cup water (600ml)
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots

Instructions
 

Prepare the meat:

  • Put the pork in a pot. Fill the pot with water until it just covers the pork. Add 1/2 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of vinegar.
  • Bring the pot to high heat. Once the water boils, let it continue boiling for about 2 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse the pork under running water until the water runs clear.
  • Dice the pork belly into 1.5" (3.5 cm) cubes.

Prepare the eggs;

  • I often boil the eggs for around six and a half minutes from cold water, but feel free to use your usual method. After boiling, transfer the eggs to cold water to cool them down.
  • Peel the eggs, and then use kitchen paper to gently pat them dry. It helps absorb any excess water.
  • To prevent the eggs from exploding when frying, you can air fry them or bake them in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 3 minutes. If using the oven, preheat the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Give them one final pat-dry with kitchen paper before frying.
  • You could either deep-fry the eggs (the crispy skin will cover the entire egg) or pan-fry them, using less oil.

Simmer the pork & eggs:

  • Heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil in a pot. Sauté the pork until it's cooked on the outside. Pour in enough water (about 2.5 cups / 600ml) to just cover the pork.
  • Simmer the pork over medium heat until the sauce thickens to about halfway.
  • Add the eggs. Season once more with fish sauce, sugar, chicken powder, and perhaps some Vietnamese caramel sauce if you want your thịt kho to have a deeper color.
  • Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Give it one final seasoning. Keep in mind that your thịt kho should be a bit saltier than your desired flavor since it will be diluted when enjoyed with rice.

Notes

  • Choose a well-balanced cut of pork belly with a good ratio of lean meat to fat. If you’re not a fan of eating fat, pork shoulder is a good option.
  • You could use quail eggs instead of chicken eggs.
  • You could substitute shallots with the white part of green onions.
  • Thịt Kho could be enjoyed with jasmine rice or sticky rice (Nothern style).
  • My recipes for microwaved Jasmine rice & Instant Pot Sticky Rice (both are quick & easy).
 
 
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