Mouth-watering Caramelised Pork Recipe for Food Lovers

A modern take on a classic Vietnamese dish, this Vietnamese-style caramelized pork will impress your taste buds and satisfy your cravings for comfort food. The balance of sweet and savory flavors in this dish will make it a staple in your recipe collection. As a chef specializing in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I have always found the traditional recipe for caramelized pork to be rich and decadent. However, my version is lighter and healthier without compromising on flavor.

With ingredients like shallots, mushrooms, fish sauce, and red chili pepper, you can create layers of umami flavors that will elevate the dish to the next level. One of the secrets to this dish is the caramel sauce that coats the tender chunks of pork belly. It is made with brown sugar and reduced-sodium chicken broth, cooked to perfection until it transforms into a deep amber color.

Whether you’re a fan of pulled pork, pork mince or even spare ribs – this dish can be tailored to include all kinds of pork cuts or even eggs – making it versatile and perfect for any meal occasion. I use bite-sized pieces of pork belly for a succulent texture that just melts in your mouth.

I encourage you to try out this recipe as it will instantly become a hit with your family and friends. By following my detailed instructions in each section of this article, you can master the art of Vietnamese-style caramelized pork with ease. So put on your chef’s hat and let’s get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vietnamese- Style Caramelised Pork
Vietnamese- Style Caramelised Pork

Are you tired of cooking the same old meals every week? Do you crave something new and exciting for your taste buds? Look no further than this Vietnamese-Style Caramelised Pork recipe!

This dish is perfect for those who enjoy the bold flavors of Asian cuisine. The combination of fish sauce, shallots, and red chili pepper creates a savory and slightly spicy taste that will tantalize your taste buds. But what really sets this dish apart is the secret ingredient – brown sugar. This addition adds a touch of sweetness that balances out the savory notes and takes this dish to the next level.

But why stop at just caramel pork belly? This versatile recipe can also be made with pork shoulder or even ground pork for a quicker option, making it perfect for busy weeknights. Plus, it can be served with rice or noodles, allowing for endless variations and customization.

But don’t just take my word for it – this Vietnamese-Style Caramelised Pork has been a crowd favorite in Vietnam for generations. Its popularity can be attributed to the fact that it’s not only delicious but also comforting. It’s a dish that brings people together around the table, creating cherished memories and traditions.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a flavorful and versatile dish that will satisfy your taste buds, look no further than this Vietnamese-Style Caramelised Pork recipe. With its bold flavors and comforting nature, it’s sure to become a staple in your weekly meal rotation.

Ingredient List

 Sweet and sticky caramelized pork, a treat for your taste buds
Sweet and sticky caramelized pork, a treat for your taste buds

Let’s take a look at the ingredient list required for the Vietnamese-Style Caramelized Pork dish. Some of the ingredients may require a trip to an Asian grocery store, but trust me, it’s all worth it in the end. Here are the ingredients you will need:

Main Ingredients:

  • Pork Belly, cut into bite-sized pieces (1-2 lbs)
  • Shallots, thinly sliced (2 large)
  • Mushrooms, quartered (6 oz)
  • Reduced-sodium Chicken Broth (1 ½ cups)

For the Caramel Sauce:

  • Sugar (¾ cup)
  • Water (¼ cup)

Spices and Flavorings:

  • Fish Sauce (3 tablespoons)
  • Red Chili Pepper, thinly sliced (1 piece)
  • Brown Sugar (½ cup)

Cooking Oils:

  • Neutral Oil like Canola Oil, Avocado Oil, or Vegetable Oil (1 ½ tablespoons)
  • Sesame Oil for finishing touches at the end.

As you can see, most of these ingredients may already be present in your kitchen. The caramel sauce is the backbone of this dish – formed from sugar and water – that gives it its unique flavor and color. Fish sauce adds a pungent and savory taste to the dish while red chili peppers bring heat to balance out the sweetness of the dish. Don’t forget to pick up some pork belly when you go out to buy groceries – it’s difficult to replicate this “caramelized pork belly” flavor with any other cut of meat!

The Recipe How-To

 A rainbow of flavors in every bite
A rainbow of flavors in every bite

Now that you have all the ingredients ready, let’s start cooking this delightful Vietnamese-style caramelized pork! The dish usually takes around 40-50 minutes of prep and cook time, and it is perfect for those comfort food days.

Cut and stir fry pork

First, cut the pork belly into bite-sized pieces. In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1½ tablespoons of oil over high heat, and then add your pork. Stir fry the pieces for about two minutes until they are golden brown.

Make the caramel sauce

To create the iconic Vietnamese caramel sauce that makes this dish so finger-licking good, add 1 cup brown sugar to your wok or frying pan where you just cooked the pork. Let it melt for about 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat until it turns into a lovely dark hue.

Add liquid ingredients

Once your sugar is perfectly melted and turned into caramel sauce, add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, one finely-sliced and diced shallot, and one sliced red chili pepper. Give it a quick stir for another 1-2 minutes before adding 1 cup of reduced-sodium chicken broth into the mix.


Now that all the ingredients are in one pan, bring them to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and ensure your meat is fully cooked through.

Note: if you want to go ahead and make pork eggs or boil some quail eggs to complete your meal, now would be a good time to add them to your mix.*

Finish cooking

After 20 minutes of simmering, take off the lid from your wok or frying pan. Turn the head back up high and allow the sauce to thicken and reduce further. This should take around 7-10 mins. Once you’re finished thickening the sauce, add sliced mushrooms, and cook for another 5-7 minutes before removing from the heat.

Your Vietnamese-style caramelized pork is now ready to serve! But before you dish it up, let it cool for a couple of minutes.

Enjoy with a lovely bowl of steamed white rice or your choice of noodles!

Substitutions and Variations

 Full of umami flavors and textures that will tantalize your tongue
Full of umami flavors and textures that will tantalize your tongue

Variety is the spice of life, and there are several ways to play with this Vietnamese-style caramelized pork recipe to create a flavor profile that suits your taste buds perfectly. Here are some substitutions and variations to try:

– Vegetarian Substitute: To create a vegetarian version of this dish, you can substitute the pork with mushrooms or tofu. For the mushroom option, sliced shiitake mushrooms will work well as a substitute for the pork belly.

– Spicier Version: If you enjoy meals with a little more spice and kick, try adding an extra red chili pepper or a few dashes of hot sauce to the recipe. This will give your caramelized pork a fiery edge.

– Healthier Options: This recipe already includes some healthier options such as reduced-sodium chicken broth and fish sauce over soy sauce. However, feel free to lean into it by using leaner cuts of pork shoulder instead of pork belly or add more vegetables like a side of bok choy or stir-fry baby corn.

– Eggs: Traditional versions of this dish often incorporate hard-boiled eggs alongside the pork. If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding a few boiled eggs to your recipe.

– Pressure Cooker: For those who want quicker results, you can use a pressure cooker instead of slow-cooking it stove-top style. Also works best if using tough cuts such as spare ribs or pulled pork so you can use up those leftovers from your last barbecue party!

– Pineapple Twist: Finally, try adding small cubes of pineapple during its braising process with the pork. The sweet tanginess adds an unexpected layer of tropical excitement to the dish while cutting slightly the salty-sweetness in mouth feel.

Remember, don’t be afraid to get creative with this recipe! Playing around with different combinations will open up a world of possibilities when it comes to serving delicious Vietnamese-style caramelized pork to friends and family at home.

Serving and Pairing

 A quick and easy weeknight dinner that will beat a takeout meal
A quick and easy weeknight dinner that will beat a takeout meal

Now that your Vietnamese-Style Caramelised Pork is ready, it’s time to serve it up! This hearty pork dish is a comfort food favourite that can be enjoyed any time of year.

Enjoy the tender and juicy pork belly Thit Kho alone as a main course, or serve with steamed rice and garnish with some chopped cilantro, sliced chili peppers, and shallots for some extra flavour and spice. The sweetness from the caramel sauce balances out the dish’s spiciness quite well, but if you want it milder in heat, you can omit the red chili pepper.

If you’re looking for other pairing ideas, try serving with stir-fried mushrooms or your choice of veggies to add textures to your meal. A light side salad made of mixed greens and drizzled with vinaigrette complements this pork dish as well.

Pair this savoury treat with a refreshing drink such as hot tea or an iced tea laced with lemongrass to balance out the richness of the pork. Vietnamese beers like Saigon Beer, Bia Hanoi, or Tiger beer work wonders when served chilled because they cut through some of the fattiness in this caramelised pork recipe. However, it would be best to balance your thirst against having too much alcohol because it will tend to upend your taste sensations.

So, whether you’re cooking for friends, family or just craving something rich and flavourful on a cold winter night this Vietnamese-Style Caramelised Pork recipe will be sure to satisfy any meaty cravings.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A perfect recipe to impress your friends at your next dinner party
A perfect recipe to impress your friends at your next dinner party

If you’re like me, you probably want to savor that delicious Vietnamese-style caramelized pork for more than just one meal. Fortunately, this dish can be made ahead of time and reheated perfectly for leftovers.

To make ahead of time, simply store the cooked pork in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When reheating, simply heat it up in a pan over medium heat until heated through. You can also reheat it in the microwave if you’re short on time but note that the texture may not be as crispy as when reheated on the stove.

If you have a pressure cooker, you can also use it to make this dish! Simply follow all the steps until step 5 where you add in the fish sauce, chicken broth and sugar. Instead of letting it simmer slowly for 1-1.5 hours, cook it in a pressure cooker on high pressure for 25-30 minutes. This will speed up the cooking process without sacrificing flavor or texture.

If you decide to serve leftover caramel pork, add some fresh garnishes such as sliced red chili peppers, shallots or mushrooms to refresh its flavors. You can also pair it with fresh vegetables such as lettuce leaves, cucumber slices or carrot matchsticks to balance its rich flavors.

Caramel pork is also great for meal prep! Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and store them in an airtight container with some of the sauce poured over them. Cook some rice and pack them separately until ready to serve. Then quickly stir-fry the pork during a busy weeknight and enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner without spending too much time in the kitchen.

In conclusion, this Vietnamese-style caramelized pork recipe is not only delicious but versatile and adaptable too. You can make it ahead of time and reheat it effortlessly or use it for meal prep purposes without compromising its authentic sweet-savory flavors.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Turn up the heat with this delicious, spicy pork dish
Turn up the heat with this delicious, spicy pork dish

Vietnamese-style caramelized pork is a staple comfort food for many people, but getting the perfect texture and flavor can be tricky even for experienced cooks. Here are my top tips for achieving the best possible results with this dish:

1. Choose the Right Cut of Pork

For optimum texture, use pork belly or pork shoulder in this recipe. These cuts have the perfect balance of fat and meat to achieve that signature melt-in-your-mouth quality.

2. Slow-Cooking is Key

While it may be tempting to hurry the cooking process along, slow-cooking your pork is the key to success with this recipe. If you’re using stove-top method, aim for at least 1 to 1 ½ hours of simmering on low heat. On the other hand, slow-cooking in a pressure cooker prevents overcooking and lock flavors in just under half an hour.

3. Pay Attention to Your Caramelization

The caramelization step in this recipe gives Vietnamese-style caramelized pork its unique flavor profile that we all craved for. It is important to let the sugar melatize before adding liquids or other ingredients. The secret is not to move the sugar while it’s cooking so it doesn’t crystalize prematurely.

4. Use Pineapple Juice or White Vinegar as Tenderizer

Pineapple juice or juice from fresh pineapple works wonders as a tenderizer due to its natural enzyme bromelain which breaks down tough proteins in meat (note: canned pineapple has less of it). Another alternative is white vinegar which helps break down meat fibers thus achieves better texture.

5. Season Strategically

While Vietnamese-style caramelized Pork only has a handful of ingredients, seasoning carefully at each step will help bring out its best flavors. Keep tasting as you prepare and adjust seasonings such as salt and fish sauce accordingly.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this Vietnamese classic with the perfect texture, down-to-earth flavor, and comforting sweetness that will keep you craving for more.


Now that you have a better understanding of the recipe and its variations, it’s time to address some frequently asked questions about Vietnamese-style caramelized pork. Whether you’re an experienced cook or trying out this recipe for the first time, these FAQ’s will help you troubleshoot or improve your cooking process. So, let’s dive into some common queries and expert tips to elevate your thit kho game!

What is Vietnamese pork made of?

The dish I’m about to share is called Thit Kho To, a classic Vietnamese recipe that typically uses pork belly. However, I prefer to prepare it with pork shoulder, as it contains less fat.

How many calories are in Vietnamese caramel pork?

The Vietnamese-style Caramelized Pork Bowls from Goodfood provide a hefty serving containing 103g of total carbs, 97g of net carbs, 27g of fat, 36g of protein, and 790 calories.

What is pork Vietnamese snack?

Nem chua is a traditional Vietnamese dish that features fermented pork as its main ingredient. The dish is made by combining lean pork with cooked rind strips, which are seasoned with garlic and chili for a flavorful punch. Typically, this dish can be served either as small, individually wrapped portions or as a larger sealed plastic sausage.

Where does caramelized pork and eggs come from?

A popular dish in Cambodia and Vietnam is caramelized pork and eggs, also known as khor săch chruk in Khmer and thịt kho tàu in Vietnamese. It typically involves cooking small pieces of marinated pork and boiled eggs in coconut juice.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Vietnamese-style caramelized pork is a delicious and versatile dish that you don’t want to miss out on. By following the recipe’s steps and making some tweaks to fit your preferred taste and availability of ingredients, you can have a scrumptious meal or snack worthy of a professional chef’s compliment.

The combination of the salty, savory, and sweet flavors from fish sauce, reduced-sodium chicken broth, sugar, red chili pepper, and shallots, among others, is a perfect representation of Vietnam’s diverse culinary culture. This dish’s ability to pair well with various side dishes such as steamed rice, pickle veggies, or stir-fried mushrooms makes it suitable for any occasion.

Some tips for perfect results include applying high heat during the initial cooking stages to create crispy edges while keeping the meat moist and tender. You can also experiment with using different proteins such as pork belly, pork shoulder, ground pork or adding eggs for extra flavor and texture.

In summary, this recipe ticks all the boxes that one looks for in a homemade comfort food. It is effortless to prepare but will leave your taste buds craving for more. Don’t forget to make some extra portions and store them correctly so you can enjoy it another day. So go ahead and give this Vietnamese-style caramelized pork recipe a try today!

Vietnamese- Style Caramelised Pork

Vietnamese- Style Caramelised Pork Recipe

This recipe was featured in the Australian WW. Apparently this dish is a variation on a Vietnamese recipe traditionally prepared for new mothers. The salt from the fish sauce would create thirst, so the new mothers would drink plenty of water, allowing them to produce plenty of milk for the newborn baby! I have not tried this recipe, but saw it made on TV and it looks absolutely divine so I have to try it.
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Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Calories 784.9 kcal


  • 500 g pork belly
  • 2 vietnamese purple shallots, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 red chili pepper, sliced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce, extra
  • 6 mushrooms, halved
  • 2 green shallots, cut into 1cm lengths
  • coriander, for garnishing
  • red chili pepper, extra for garnishing


  • Cut pork belly into 3cm cubes.
  • Combine pork with purple shallots, fish sauce, sliced chilli and sweet chilli sauce in a large bowl.
  • Mix well and stand for 15 minutes.
  • Place the rice bran oil and sugar in a wok and cook until the sugar starts to caramelise. This gives the dish it's colour.
  • Add the marinated pork mixture to the wok and stirfry over high heat until browned and mixture is thickened.
  • Add 1 cup of the stock and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Add the remaining stock and extra sweet chilli sauce and simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the pork is tender and liquid is reduced by half again.
  • Add mushrooms and half the green onions and toss to combine.
  • Transfer to a serving dish.
  • Top pork with remaining green onions, coriander and sliced red chilli (if desired).
  • Serve with steamed jasmine rice and steamed Asian greens.
  • Suitable to freeze.
  • Note: Prep time does not include the 15 minutes standing time.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 336gCalories: 784.9kcalCarbohydrates: 12.2gProtein: 17gFat: 74.5gSaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 91.4mgSodium: 1300.6mgFiber: 0.8gSugar: 4.6g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Asian, Meat, Pork, Vietnamese
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