As a child, Jeannette, a Redditor who blogs at Wok and Kin, remembers her grandmother working hard in the kitchen to ensure her family had a delicious dinner on the table every night.
"Her day would consist of catching public transport to the local Asian supermarkets," Jeannette told TODAY Food. "She would then go through multiple stores to find the freshest ingredients before settling on what she would buy. I only know this because I made it my mission to learn how to cook from Grandma and spent most of my days off university accompanying her."
One of her family's favorite dishes was Thit Kho, a caramelized, coconut water-braised pork belly dish that also includes hard boiled eggs, cooked in the same braising liquid until golden.
Jeannette shared her grandmother's Thit Kho recipe recently in the Old_Recipes subreddit, and several fellow Redditors chimed in with their own memories of eating the sweet and savory pork belly dish with their families.
Jeannette said there are many reasons the dish is a favorite in her own family.
"It's just pure comfort food," she said. "Grandma cuts the pork a bit thicker and it's so satisfying biting into a big chunk of meat. But that's not the end of it. The best part is the egg. Those eggs soak up every drop of sauce and become a flavour bomb on their own."
In addition to pouring the leftover sauce from the dish over rice, Jeannette says her family enjoys a side cucumber salad with the meal.
And, when it comes to the coconut water called for in the recipe, the family says go fresh or go home.
"It can be difficult to get the liquid out, but that subtle sweetness can't be found in water and sugar alone," said Jeannette. "I would also suggest finding a pork cut that has a generous amount of fat and meat so that you get the best of both worlds and a deliciously juicy bite."
Taking all of Jeannette's tips to heart, my husband and I attempted Grandma's recipe in our own kitchen.
After hard-boiling eggs and hacking into coconuts from my own backyard (a perk of Florida-living!), we sliced our pork belly about two inches thick, per Grandma's instructions, and went to work.
After adding sugar, water and fish sauce to our wok, we tossed the hard boiled eggs around in the mixture until they were golden, then caramelized our pork belly before adding the sweet coconut water for braising. Overall, the process was simple, and the heavenly fragrance of pork belly browning in a sugary sauce was intoxicating.
We let our pork belly braise for 20 minutes, added the eggs back in, and let it all mingle a little longer. Then, it was time to eat.
With jasmine rice and sautéed collard greens with ginger and soy sauce as side dishes, the full meal was pure comfort-food perfection.
As parents of one food-lover and one picky eater, we were also pleased to see the meal made both kids happy. We taught my daughter how to pair a perfect bite of sliced pork belly and hardboiled egg on her fork, and my son, although a bit more choosy, thought the pork belly tasted a lot like bacon. Makes sense.
The best part? We had leftovers for the next day that I can only imagine will be more flavorful after sitting in the refrigerator overnight.
Jeannette said she's loved seeing her grandmother's recipe take off, both on her blog and on Reddit.
"There's just something about those simple flavours that make it so comforting," she said.
"Grandma alternates between Cantonese and Vietnamese recipes because that's what she knows best," she added. "I've asked her in the past who taught her all these recipes and she says she just had to learn it all by herself. My guess is that she learned by observing and listening to other people then just trialing on her own, but according to Grandma she had no help."