Braised Pork Belly

Tht kho tru'ng is the quintessential comfort food of my youth. This was a dish my mama cooked at least once a month. The ingredient list is short, the items simple and inexpensive. And yet the flavors are savory and delectable. I never realized how much I loved this dish until I was older and found myself deeply missing my mama's cooking. As a tribute to her, this was the dish I cooked for my initial MasterChef casting call in Austin, and it was also the dish I cooked for the judges at the finale. It was my homage to her cooking, her spirit, and her life. My MasterChef journey came full circle.
Photography By Mitch Mandel | June 04, 2015


In a large saucepan, bring to a boil enough water to cover the pork belly. Add the pork and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain. Rinse the pork belly and wipe out the saucepan. Cut the pork belly into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

In the same saucepan, over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Return the pork to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned. Transfer the pork to a clay pot and season it with the pepper. Add the coconut soda, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/4 cup sugar, garlic, shallots, onion, and eggs. The liquid should cover both the pork and the eggs; add water if necessary. Bring to a boil on the stove top.

Reduce the heat to low and cover. Braise for 1 to 11/2 hours, until the pork is cooked to the desired tenderness. Before serving, adjust the seasoning, adding fish sauce or sugar if necessary, and season again with black pepper. Garnish with the scallions and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Reprinted from Recipes from My Home Kitchen by Christine Ha. Copyright © 2013 by Rodale Inc. By permission of Rodale Books. Available from bookstores, in stock or ordered.


  • 2 1/2 pounds pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cans (12 ounces) coconut soda
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce plus additional, if desired
  • 1/4 cup sugar plus additional, if desired
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • Chopped scallions
  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice
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