28 January 2011

Thit kho

Can’t make caramel sauce without making thit kho. Which is one of my hubby's favorit. There are different versions and everyone has their own recipe but it always has meat and caramel sauce. I use to make it with fresh bamboo or with fried tofu. But the last couple of years I only make it with eggs. Cuz the hubby loves it and you got to keep the hubby happy.

These are the ingredients I use:
-          lots of fatty pork with or without skin
-          eggs
-          onion
-          garlic
-          ginger
-          lemon grass
-          ginger
-          bay leaves
-          chili pepper
-          and of course salt and fresh grounded pepper

As you can see with cooking I rarely put in the quantities. It is all about experimenting and taste.
I start with chopping the onion, the garlic, the lemon grass and the ginger.
Then I chopped the meat in cubes. I got some fatty pork with skin but if you don’t like the skin you should remove it before you chop it.
I used the same pan, in which I made the caramel sauce, to stir-fry everything, starting with the onion then the ginger, lemon grass, chili pepper, bay leaves and the garlic. And I covered everything with freshly grounded pepper.
After everything is browned a bit and the whole kitchen smells like food I added the meat.

In the meantime I also cooked and peeled some hard boiled eggs and dropped them in the same pot. I seasoned it with some salt, but you can also use fish sauce.
Remember the bowl of caramel sauce I made earlier? Throw the whole bowl in the pot. If you are too lazy to make the caramel sauce, you can use some Indonesian ketjap sauce (ketjap manis) also. The flavor is a bit different, but you will still get the nice golden brown color. In fact I always use a little bit in my thit kho.
Now comes the easy part. Just add enough water to cover everything and let it boil. Then taste it one last time before you turn the heat on low and let it simmer till the meat is soft and almost falls apart. This can take a couple of hours though. Make sure you check the pot once a while and add extra water when needed.
To get a clear broth you do need to remove the foam once a while.
I always cook it one day ahead. On day one it has been cooking for at least 2 hours and on the day we eat it, I will cook it for another 2 hours. But before I cook it for the second time I make sure I scoop as much fat off as possible. Before you serve it you can sprinkle some chopped coriander and spring onion on top, if you have it at hand.
This is how we eat it. I made some sweet and sour ginger Chinese cabbage and plain white rice. Mom made sweet and sour Chinese mustard greens (gai choy) which go great with thit kho also. Basically anything that is sweet and sour will go well with thit kho. Make sure you eat it with plain white rice to balance it all out.

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