( Vietnamese Braised Pork & Hard-Boiled Eggs)
A visual step-by-step on how to roll your own.
A few of the ingredients used to create this dish.
This morning I got my friend Jocelyn's text for her story that goes along with this dish. It's a quick blurb, but I couldn't help but be entranced by all of her descriptions and of her memories eating this dish. It actually transported me back to my kitchen with her just a few days ago watching and photographing every moment of her cooking this dish. Food + Memory, I think there's a series of photos there. So without further ado, please enjoy the meal with your eyes and imagination (and a bit of your own memory as well) that Jocelyn of Jocelyn Eats and Cooks has prepared.
I decided to make thịt kho trứng (braised pork and egg) since the Lunar New Year (Tết) is coming up - Sunday, February 10th. On New Years Day, every Vietnamese family will have a huge pot of it sitting on their stove waiting to be devoured. I am not sure the reason behind having this dish for New Years - maybe, for good luck, but, for sure, it is a TRADITION. For New Years, we eat it in a rice wrap with pickled mustard greens, pickled bean sprouts, and a few other veggies. All the fixings are spread out on the table, we sit together as a family, make our own wraps, talk, and laugh. It is a very hands on kind of meal like curry and nan or a falafel hummus plate with pita bread.
In the wrap, you have your pork with skin and fat that has been braising for at least 3 hours, so it is tender and soft and oozing with flavors from the fish sauce and coconut soda. Then you have the crunchy thick pickled sweet and tangy mustard greens and the lighter crunchiness of the pickled sprouts with chives and carrots, which balances out the fat of the pork. Oh, also...THE EGG! The pieces of hard boiled eggs that have turned to an amber color, since it has been braising and soaking up all the delicious sauce. My mom fries the hard boiled eggs for more depth of texture and flavoring. By doing so, it introduces a slightly chewy texture that just mesh so well with everything else. Anyway, you take all that goodness and wrap it inside a rice paper and dip it into the warm goodness of sauce (the braising liquid) with some Sambal (ground fresh chili paste). The sauce just coats everything with a little saltiness and a little sweetness, and it is just an exploration of flavors, freshness, and textures in your mouth. Almost like an orgasm but in your mouth!
This dish is also eaten as an everyday meal with rice. I have memories of opening the rice cooker and steam coming up, reaching in, and scooping it into my bowl. Then going over to the simmering pot on the stove and scoop some chunks of meat and an egg with some of the sauce and pour it over my rice. Growing up, I liked and enjoyed this dish, but it was not one of my favorites - probably because it was commonly consumed and underrated dish. Now that I am no longer living at home, I love and miss this dish more and more. It is so comforting and nostalgic - it feeds my soul (with rendered pork meat and fat!). Oh, gee. I know how that food critic in "Ratatouille" felt now. I think what makes me miss this dish probably more is that you cannot pull a chair in a Vietnamese restaurant and just order it. You only eat it...at home cooked by mom. Sigh.