Recipe: ‘Thit kho tau’ (Caramelized pork and eggs) for Lunar New Year

‘Thit kho tau’ (Caramelized pork and eggs) is a popular dish in the South of Vietnam. This special dish is usually made for the Tet Holiday (Lunar New Year) as a symbol of family affection. Vietnamese people have been always saying "Seeing Thịt kho tàu is seeing Tet".


On the occasion of the Lunar New Year, the Thit kho tau can bring an emotional strength, the spirit of connecting every member of the family. This simple dish has always played an indispensable role in the meal of Vietnamese people in Tet Holiday.

In the south, the weather is hotter than the north, so the southerners only need to make a large pot of meat that can be stored up for a long time during the New Year’s Day when the market is not open. Coconut juice is very popular in the South because of the suitable climate.

The cultural exchange with other ethnic groups such as Hoa, Khmer here affects a lot to the culinary giving it a typical sweet taste of coconut milk and sugar. The above factors contributed to the formation of thethitkho tau in the South.


1 kg pork belly or boneless pork leg (2.2 lb), cut into 1.5 inch (4cm) cubes

1 tbsp garlic minced

1 tbsp shallot minced

1 tsp stock powder (eg. Knorr, optional)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp cooking oil

1/2 cup fish sauce 120ml

600 ml coconut juice 2.5 cups

600 ml water 2.5 cups

5 hard boiled eggs (or fried tofu cubes or dried shitake mushrooms)


1. Season the pork with minced garlic, minced shallot, stock powder (optional), salt and pepper for 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator.

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2.In a large pot over medium heat, add 1 tbsp cooking oil and sprinkle 2 tbsp sugar over the base. When the sugar melts and turns into a caramel color liquid, add the pork and stir well for 3 minutes until the pork is no longer pink on the outside.

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3.Add coconut juice and water (The amount should be enough to barely cover the pork). Then add the hard boiled eggs and bring to a boil. Addfish sauce and adjust to your taste. (Depending on the sweetness of the coconut juice, you may want to add more sugar). Skim off the scum and simmer uncovered over low-medium heat for 2 hours. The sauce will reduce by half and become saltier.

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4. Transfer to a serving plate, and sprinkle more black pepper on top.

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