Vietnamese Caramel Pork

Vietnamese Caramel Pork
4.97 from 77 votes

"Thit Kho To" - Tender pork in a sweet savoury glaze. Made using coconut water as the broth, but it doesn't have a coconut flavour at all! It looks so unimpressive right up until the end when it magically transforms into sticky caramelised pork pieces! Traditionally made with pork belly which I find too fatty for this recipe, I prefer using shoulder (butt) because it's still beautifully juicy. It's not meant to be saucy, but you don't need it because the pork is so juicy and all the flavour is inside it. Recipe VIDEO below.

Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 40 minutes

Vietnamese Caramel Pork is a simple, magical recipe - tender pork in a sweet savoury glaze and no hunting down unusual ingredients!


  • 1/2 cup / 100g brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 kg / 2 lb pork shoulder (butt) or boneless skinless pork belly, cut into 3 cm / 1.2" pieces (Note 1a)
  • 1 1/4 cups / 375 ml coconut water (Note 1b)
  • 1 eschallot / shallot , very finely sliced (Note 2)
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • Red chilli and finely sliced shallots/green onions


Place sugar and water in a large pot over medium heat. Stir, then when it bubbles and the sugar is melted (it looks like caramel), add the rest of the ingredients.

Stir, then adjust the heat so it is simmering fairly energetically. Not rapidly, not a slow simmer (I use medium heat on a weak stove, between medium and low on a strong stove).

Simmer for 1.5 hours, uncovered. Stir once or twice while cooking.

At around 1.5 hours, when the liquid has reduced down and the pork is tender, (see Note 3 if pork is not yet tender), the fat will separate (see video).

Stir and the pork will brown and caramelise in the fat.

Once the liquid is all gone and it's now stuck on the pork pieces, it's ready.

Serve over rice, garnished with fresh chilli and shallots. Simple pickled vegetables are ideal for a side because the fresh acidity pairs well with the rich pork.

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