I cook for a lot of reasons. Among my motivations are career, hunger, family, friends, and curiosity. When Mike Hargis (winner of the banh mi selfie contest) shared his grandma’s recipe for a southern Vietnamese classic dish of pork and eggs simmered with coconut juice, I was intrigued. Mike posted the recipe on the Viet World Kitchen Facebook page and I noticed that his maternal grandma (Ba Ngoai in Vietnamese) totally didn’t make thit heo kho trung in the traditional sense.
If you have Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, the recipe on page 146 is a simple, classic approach – chunks of pork leg with fat, skin and lean, coconut water/juice, caramel sauce, fish sauce, a little sugar and boiled eggs. Some cooks like to add a touch of onion and garlic too. My family likes to taste the porkiness. Regardless of seasoning, thit heo kho trung is southern Viet comfort food that’s simmered stovetop and eaten with rice; the eggs get cut or broken up with some of the soupy cooking liquid to create a rich sauce to flavor the rice. It's a dish that southern Vietnamese people enjoy year around but also during Tet (Lunar New Year).
Mike’s grandma used pork shoulder, soy sauce, coconut water, onion, fresh and powdered garlic, and lots of black pepper along with the requisite eggs. The dish is cooked in the oven. Say what? How’d did a woman of her generation have access to an oven? How does the dish taste with the soy sauce?