The revamped Bánh Cuốn Tây Hồ #8 dishes out some seriously tender thịt kho (fatty pork slow cooked in nuoc mam and sugar).
You know how they say this beef and that melt in your mouth? Well, I haven’t had any beef like that to testify if it’s just figurative talks, but last week I had this pork that really did melt in my mouth.
There is no need for either knife or teeth. The porcelain soup spoon cuts through three layers of skin, fat and meat as it would with a flan. The skin, which is half an inch thick and might have been chewy once, is not even as tough as jello. There is perhaps too much fat in this pork: a runny white bunch flimsily holding onto the meat (which should have been trimmed off) and bubbles floating in the sauce.
That’s how Southerners in the Mekong Delta cook their meat: huge chunks, generous seasonings, little attention to details and presentation. A few spoons of meat sauce alone is enough to flavor the rice. Overwhelmed by the fat? Tone it down with some dưa chua, pickled bok choy, carrot and daikon.
But what I like most in this lardy, homely course is not the meat, it’s the bone. Soaked in the same mixture of fish sauce and sugar, cooked for the same long time over the same heat, the bone doesn’t just dissolve like the meat, but becomes a pocket of juicy marrow. Place a bone between your jaws and press with the molars, the marrow oozes out like melting chocolate. Moving up a notch, Tay Ho’s braised pork was so cooked the bones turned into cookies. I am not exaggerating.
The second best thing in thịt kho is the eggs that have been cooked with the meat. Most savory eggs you can ever get.
Thịt kho trứng: $