Are you ready to savor a vegan twist on a timeless Vietnamese delicacy? Indulge in the tantalizing flavors of Vegan Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly, a plant-based rendition of the traditional Thịt Kho Tàu. Immerse yourself in childhood memories with every bite of this sweet, savory, and richly umami-infused dish.
The Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly
Braised Pork Belly, known as Thịt Kho Tàu, holds a special place in Vietnamese households, particularly during Lunar New Year celebrations. This delectable recipe features succulent pork belly bathed in a caramelized sauce, traditionally accompanied by a bowl of steaming white rice.
Across Vietnam, slight variations distinguish the Northern and Southern styles of this dish. In the north, smaller pork belly chunks, eggs, and a more savory sauce take center stage. On the other hand, the southern version boasts larger pork belly pieces and a sweeter sauce enriched with coconut water.
Veganizing the Pork Belly
Inspired by the creativity of Vietnamese food enthusiasts, I’ve crafted a plant-based version of this beloved dish. Drawing from my culinary memories, I’ve expertly combined the irresistible umami flavors with ingenious vegan substitutes.
For the lean ‘meat’ component, I experimented with both tofu and TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein). While both options are satisfactory, TVP offers a chewier texture that adheres better between the layers, replicating the original pork belly experience.
To create the coconut ‘pork fat’ layer, I meticulously blend tapioca starch, flour, and creamy coconut milk. This mixture forms a luscious, fatty paste that binds the lean ‘meat,’ ‘pork skin,’ and fat layers of the vegan pork belly.
For the ‘pork skin,’ either tofu skin or a baguette can be used, adding a delightful element of authenticity. Layering the tofu/TVP with the coconut pork fat and skin brings the dish to life. Detailed instructions for this tantalizing creation can be found in this blog post (hyperlink Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ).
Crafting the Flavorsome Sauce
Elevate the vegan pork belly by simmering it in a sweet and savory sauce infused with classic Vietnamese ingredients. The sauce ingredients include sugar for a touch of sweetness, aromatic onions, garlic, and chili, soy sauce for a deep and savory flavor, mushroom seasoning, and a hint of black pepper.
In the north, water is traditionally used, while the south favors the creamy sweetness of coconut water. Opting for coconut water adds subtle, nutty undertones to the dish, accentuating its creamy richness. However, rest assured, this delectable dish remains delectable even without coconut water.
Begin by frying the vegan pork belly pieces until golden brown on both sides. In a pan or pot, caramelize sugar with water, then add minced shallots and garlic, stir-frying them for 1-2 minutes. Introduce the vegan pork belly to the pan, mixing it with the caramelized sauce. Add soy sauce, mushroom seasoning (or salt), black pepper, and water, allowing the flavors to meld together as the dish simmers on low heat for 10 minutes, covered.
Finish with a dash of salt and pepper to taste, garnishing the vegan pork belly with vibrant green onions and chili slices.
Serving Vegan Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly
Indulge in the full experience of Vegan Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly by pairing it with fluffy white rice and a medley of vibrant vegetable side dishes or soups. The warm, comforting rice perfectly complements the deep, savory taste of this dish, making each bite a true delight.
Alternatively, for a unique twist, serve alongside Mung Beans Sticky Rice (Xôi đậu xanh), heightening the gastronomic pleasure even further.
Recipe Storage and Review
Once prepared, this delectable dish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you decide to recreate this recipe, kindly share your feedback by leaving a review on this page or tagging me on Instagram @veggieanh. I am genuinely excited to witness your culinary endeavors.
If you enjoyed this captivating culinary journey, explore some of my other remarkable recipes:
- Vegan Pork Belly – Step-by-Step Instructions
- Mung Beans Sticky Rice (Xôi đậu xanh)
- Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls (Vegan)
- Vegan Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
- Vietnamese Mango Salad (Gỏi Xoài)
- Bánh Xèo Chay – Vegan Vietnamese Pancakes