September 7, 2007

Vietnamese stewed pork with eggs

Based on a little research and reading I did when I was trying to find out more about it, this dish is called "thit kho" in Vietnamese. It's popularly served for New Year's day in Vietnam and this was my first attempt to cook it. I couldn't help comparing it to a particular Filipino dish called "paksiw na pata" which has a similar taste and color. I was introduced to this dish when I discovered a very good Viet-Thai restaurant in Lowell, MA where we got a chance to stay for a few days. Walking along the main street from the library, I passed this restaurant and decided to have lunch there. Judging from the locals with a huge Cambodian and Vietnamese population who gathered at the place, I knew I made the right decision. In the buffet were several dishes I'm familiar with like fresh and fried spring rolls, the usual chicken and veggie dishes, etc. There were a couple which caught my attention, one was this dish and the other one was a noodle dish (I will also try to make it some other time). I enjoyed this stewed pork so much that I just have to make it at home. I also asked my friend from Texas for more info with the recipe and cooking techniques (her husband is Vietnamese) and was very pleased to be able to somehow come up with a version of it. I must have caramelized the sugar longer than required because the sauce turned darker than the lighter and more delicate tasting one I had at the restaurant. I also thought quail eggs must be interesting to use than regular chicken eggs. The dish, with it's sweet and salty characteristic, will certainly appeal to the Filipino palate. The Vietnamese use pork belly with the rind but since this cut of pork wasn't available around here, I added just a couple of fresh pork hocks, which happened to be available, along with the more meaty country ribs. The pork hocks were a good substitute for the pork belly. The hard-boiled eggs are a perfect addition and the caramelized sugar for the sauce is a unique touch.

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