Vietnamese Stewed Pork and Pineapple-Thịt Kho Thơm

Vietnamese food

This dish is a  special weekend treat that I really enjoyed  when I was training at Cho Ray hospital sometime between 1978-1986 as I would usually volunteer to stay over the weekend and hang around the ER/ED for the purpose of having more practice with hands-on skills. The cooks only made this dish on the weekends.  At the time, you couldn’t expect to see a whole plate full of meat in front of you. I remembered I got about 3-4 small pieces of pork-slightly larger than my thumb and a few pieces of pineapple soaked in the  delicious, fatty, caramel-colored sauce from stewing the meat. Maybe that was what made it taste so good since we were only able to eat just a small amount instead of stuffing our stomach too full of goodies.

Make 4 serving in a multiple course meal:
1 lb pork belly, butt, chop or boneless country-style rib (fatty meat preferred/with or without skin)
1/4 pineapple, cut into 1/4 in. thick wedges, toss with 1Tbp sugar if it is sour
2 Tbs sugar and 1 extra Tbp sugar to marinate pineapple if it is sour
2 Tbs regular soy sauce
1 Tbs fish sauce
2 tsp finely minced garlic
2 Tbs minced shallot
1/2 tsp ground  black pepper
1 small red Thai chili (optional)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 sprigs cilantro (optional)
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1. Cut pork into 1/4 in. thick slices.  Marinate with soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 garlic and shallot.  Set aside at least 15 minutes.
2.  Heating oil in a medium saute pan over medium high heat.  Add garlic and shallot, stir until fragrant and garlic turned light tan.  Add pork without marinade, make a quick stirring to coat all the pork with flavored oil, then rearrange them in a layer.  Sear them a few minutes on each side.  When the pork shrunk and loss the red raw look, add pineapple,  whole red chili and remaining marinade.  Toss them well, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Cover and simmer on medium low heat until the pork cooked through and the skin is soft about 15-20 minutes.  The sauce will be thickened and pork and pineapple would be light brown.  If using pork with skin make sure the skin soft and a folk can poke through it easily.  If the skin or meat is not soft enough, add a few tablespoon water, cover and cook until the skin and meat is soft.  If there are more sauce than you wanted, remove the cover and cook on medium high or high heat a few minutes to reduce the sauce.
3.  Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle green onion, black pepper, and cilantro.  Serve with cooked rice in a multiple course meal.

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