Caramelised Pork Belly (Thịt Kho)

Every single Vietnamese person I know, grew up eating this dish. If you were to ask any Vietnamese person which home cooked dish reminds them of home, this would probably be among the top 5. Whenever I come home from an overseas holiday, this is usually the first dish I cook when I am craving a home cooked meal.

This dish is salty, sweet and caramelise-y and goes oh-so-well with jasmine rice and a bowl of soup (canh). Eating this dish with rice and soup is extremely important to balance out the saltiness of this dish. In Vietnam, my mum grew up with a large number of siblings (9 to be exact) and food was very scarce. My mum told me whenever they could afford to buy meat, my grandma would season this quite strongly (salty and sweet) to stretch the portion of meat needed to feed the whole family.

Growing up, while my situation was better off than my mum’s in Vietnam, we still weren’t very well off and pork belly at that time was an extremely cheap cut of meat. Because of this, we ate Thịt Kho at least once a week if not more.

Serves 4

Ingredients for marinade

  • 440g pork belly, sliced 5mm thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 birds eye chillis, minced
  • ¼ brown onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (squid brand)
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • ⅛ tsp salt

Seasonings to add later

  • 1 tsp caramel sauce
  • 3 tsp fish sauce (squid brand)
  • 2 ½ tsp sugar

    Pre-marinated meat + Caramel Sauce


  1. Marinade meat overnight or on the morning of the day if possible
  2. In a stone pot turn on the heat to medium and add the pork and caramel sauce

    1st put in
    Mix evenly to coat the pork
  3. Stir and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, close the lid (there should be a hole on the lid for the steam to release) and reduce heat to low to simmer for 10 minutes

    after 10min
    After 10 minutes, natural juices from the pork will come out
  4. Add remaining fish sauce and sugar and stir to evenly coat the meat
  5. Close the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes

    after 15 min
    After another 5 minutes, the sauce has slightly caramelised
  6. Open the lid, turn the heat up to high and continue stirring every few seconds until caramelised (about 4-5 minutes)

    open lid
    This sauce has caramelised to a salty sweet stickiness!
  7. Finally, crack some black pepper over the meat before serving. Enjoy! holding


  1. This also goes very well with some sliced cucumber to dip into the caramelised sauce as a refresher


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