This Thit Kho Tiêu recipe is a classic dish in a Vietnamese family meal. It boasts tender caramelized pork infused with the bold flavors of warm and fiery black pepper.

Trust me, you will need a plenty of steamed rice with this dish! In this post as I guide you through a seamless and efficient method to prepare thịt kho tiêu, requiring just 30 minutes of your time.

Delicious thit kho tieu recipe: 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

A typical Vietnamese meal typically comprises four components: steamed Jasmine rice, a protein dish, a vegetable dish, and a light soup (canh). Thịt Kho Tiêu is always among the top go-to dishes for Vietnamese busy moms due to its quick cooking time and superb flavor.

As a child, whenever my mom prepared dishes like thịt kho tiêu, gà kho gừng (caramelized ginger chicken), sườn nướng (grilled lemongrass pork chops), or sườn ram mặn (caramelized pork ribs), I always polished off at least two bowls of steamed rice. These dishes are truly comforting and evoke nostalgic feelings.

🙋‍♀️ Thịt Kho Tiêu vs. Thịt Kho Tàu

Many people find themselves confused between these two dishes, as both translate to “Vietnamese caramelized pork” in English. However, there are distinct differences between them.

Thịt Kho Tiêu, as the name suggests, refers to “black pepper caramelized pork,” while Thịt Kho Tàu refers to “Chinese-style caramelized pork” (which may draw inspiration from the Chinese dish Dong Po Rou, though there are ongoing debates about this in Vietnam).

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

Here are some key contrasts between the two dishes:

  • Sweetness: Thịt kho tiêu tends to be less sweet compared to Thịt kho tàu, which is often braised in coconut water.
  • Meat Size: Thịt kho tiêu involves dicing the meat into smaller pieces compared to Thịt kho tàu. This difference in size means that thịt kho tiêu requires less cooking time.
  • Meat Cuts: Since Thịt kho tàu requires longer cooking times, it typically uses fattier cuts of meat, such as pork belly. In contrast, thịt kho tiêu allows for the use of both fatty and lean cuts, including pork belly, pork shoulder, pork butt, or even pork loin.
  • Additionally, Thịt kho tàu is sometimes referred to as Thịt kho trứng, indicating that eggs are cooked together with the pork in this particular dish.

🥩 Ingredients

Ingredients for Thit Kho tieu

Thịt Kho Tiêu only calls for a handful of essential ingredients which are staples in Asian, particularly Vietnamese, kitchens:

  • Pork: You could choose from pork belly, pork shoulder, pork butt, or even pork loin. Personally, for my Thịt Kho Tiêu recipe I find that pork shoulder, with its balanced fat content, works best.
  • Black Peppercorns: This ingredient is an absolute must-have for this recipe. Opt for high-quality black peppercorns. You could use black pepper powder also if you prefer a milder black pepper flavor.
  • Fish sauce: no salt, no soy sauce, no chicken powder, fish sauce is the star savory seasoning in this dish.
  • Sugar: A touch of sugar is added to achieve a delicate balance of flavors.
  • Scallions, Garlic, and Red Chili: These aromatic ingredients help enhance both the flavor and visual appeal of the dish.
  • Vietnamese Caramel Sauce (Nước Màu) or Molasses: To achieve the appealing caramelized color of Thịt Kho Tiêu, you can use traditional Vietnamese caramel sauce. However, I recently discovered that molasses makes an excellent substitute.

📝 Instructions

  • Separate the white and green parts of the scallions, then chop them.
  • Mince the garlic and slice the red chili.
  • If using whole black peppercorns, crush them with a mortar and pestle to enhance the flavor (skip this step if using black pepper powder).
Instructions for Thit Kho Tieu
  • Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces or 3 cm (1.2 in.) wide strips.
  • In a pan, sauté the minced garlic and chopped white part of the scallions in cooking oil until fragrant. Add the pork to the pan and stir-fry over medium-high heat until there is no raw meat color left.
Instructions for Thit Kho Tieu
  • Add sugar, fish sauce, and molasses (or Vietnamese caramel sauce) to the pork. Stir-fry for another minute to incorporate the seasonings.
  • Add the crushed black pepper (or black pepper powder) and sliced red chili. Pour enough water into the pan to cover the meat, then close the lid. Allow the pork to simmer on medium heat until the sauce reduces.
Instructions for Thit Kho Tieu
Instructions for Thit Kho Tieu
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning of the thịt kho tiêu according to your preference.
  • Garnish with the chopped green part of the scallions. Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!
Delicious thit kho tieu recipe: 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

🌟 Helpful tips

  • My recipe has a bit of spiciness and heat due to the generous amount of pepper used. Feel free to adjust the spice level according to your taste, especially if you’re cooking for kids or prefer a milder flavor.
  • If you visit Vietnam, don’t forget to bring back Phú Quốc peppercorns, renowned for its exceptional flavor and quality (Phú Quốc island is famous for black peppercorns and fish sauce).
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

🍚 Indulge in more authentic Vietnamese recipes

  1. More quick & easy fixes for your daily meals:
  1. Easy yet special treats for your weekends:
  1. Delicious yet guilt-free choices:
  1. Don’t forget to finish your meals with some Vietnamese desserts:
  1. If you are a fan of steamed rice, explore my collection of recipes with Jasmine rice.

If you’ve tried this recipe or any others from my blog, please share your creations with me on Instagram by tagging #savour_thepho or mentioning me in your stories with @savour_thepho . I would be thrilled to see what you’ve made and it would definitely brighten my day! Don’t forget to stay in touch with me on Instagram, FacebookPinterestYouTube 🥰.

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 (Vietnamese Black Pepper Caramelized Pork)

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Thit Kho Tiêu, a Vietnamese classic, offers succulent caramelized pork with bold black pepper flavors. Pair with steamed rice for a delightful meal!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Family meal
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 1.2 pound pork (560g) (pork belly, pork shoulder, pork butt, pork loin)
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce (adjust to your taste)
  • 3 tbsp sugar (adjust to your taste)
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns (or black pepper powder, adjust to your taste)
  • 1 red chili (goat horn pepper, jalapenos)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs scallions
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • ½ tsp Vietnamese caramel sauce (nước màu) (or Molasses)

Instructions
 

  • Chop the white and green parts of scallions separately.
  • Slice the red chili and mince the garlic.
  • If using whole black peppercorns, crush them with a mortar and pestle to intensify the flavor. Skip this step if using black pepper powder.
  • Dice the pork into bite-sized pieces or 3 cm (1.2 in.) wide strips.
  • In a pan, sauté the minced garlic and chopped white part of the scallions in cooking oil until they become fragrant. Then, add the pork to the pan and stir-fry over medium-high heat until the meat loses its raw color.
  • Season the pork with sugar, fish sauce, and molasses (or Vietnamese caramel sauce). Stir-fry for an additional minute.
  • Add the crushed black pepper (or black pepper powder) and sliced red chili to the pan. Pour enough water into the pan to cover the meat, then close the lid. Let the pork simmer on medium heat until the sauce reduces to your desired consistency.
  • Taste thịt kho tiêu and adjust the seasoning according to your preference.
  • Finally, garnish the dish with the chopped green part of the scallions. Serve it alongside steamed rice!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
5/5 - (33 votes)

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