Food is one of the most significant parts in each culture. It is just amazing to try different kinds of food from different countries around the world. Just like how people always think of sushi when they think of Japan, hamburger when they think of America, kimchi when they think of Korea, and so on…. They think of Pho when they talk about Vietnamese food. Pho is the famous Vietnamese beef broth noodle soup. But no, Vietnamese cuisine is not all about Pho. There are still many other delicious dishes.
Even though the people from the North, the Central and the South may eat different kinds of food, they all cook and enjoy the same Vietnamese traditional meal. The main dish of the meal is Caramelized Braised Pork and Boiled Eggs, thit heo kho trung.
To prepare for this dish, you can buy ingredients at any Asian market. The ingredients include, 2lbs pork belly or shoulder, 8 eggs, 4 gloves of garlic, 3 tbsp sugar, 4tbsp oil, 3 cups coconut juice, 2 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp pepper. Of course, one ingredient that can’t be missed in Vietnamese dishes is fish cause, about 3tbsp.
Cut the pork into 1” cubes. Peel the cloves of garlic and crush them. Boil the eggs and peel them. Let’s marinate the pork first! Put the pork cubes into a big bowl, add half of the crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and fish sauce. In a small pan, caramelize sugar and water in medium heat until the mixture turns golden brown color. Add that caramel in to the marinated pork bowl. Mix them all together and wait about 15- 30 minutes.
Next, let’s cook it! In a large pan, turn on high heat, when the pan is hot, add oil and wait about 10 seconds, add the rest of the fresh crushed garlic and stir for 5 seconds. You can smell the garlic now and see that they are about to turn a little brown in color. Add all the marinated pork in and stir until you see the color of meat change, add coconut juice. When the juice is boiling, turn the heat back to low, add boiled eggs in and cook for about 2 hours. Done!
This caramelized braised pork and egg is served with rice, of course. It can also be served with some vegetables, such as lettuce, mint leaves, cucumber or preserved cabbage. Sometimes, people can also make rolls with the pork and eggs. They wrap the vegetable, pork, and egg inside a rice paper and eat like spring rolls.
Even though there are a lot of different types of food in Vietnamese cuisine, this caramelized braised pork and egg is the traditional dish. It is the most popular dish that people around the country, in every household, from the North to the South, make every year for Tet holiday. Tet is the biggest traditional holiday in Vietnam. It’s the time that people celebrate Lunar New Year. They have Tet holiday because it’s the chance for everyone to take a break from the entire year of working, look back on what they have done and get ready to move on to the next year.
Caramelized braised pork and egg is also the dish to serve on ancestors’ altar on their death anniversary. If you want to know more about Vietnamese food, other than Pho, you should try this dish.
—- Titi Chan