Thom Khem (Braised pork and eggs)

Hey there! Today I’ll be showing you how to make one of my faaavorite dishes, ever. It goes by many names in different countries, but in my little Laotian family, we called it Thom Khem. It roughly translates to braised pork with boiled eggs, which is funny, because I thought it translated to something else. I was trying real hard with my broken Lao to translate it and I sat here like “boiled…..salty? That doesn’t make any sense.” Haha! But anyways- Trust, this is absolutely delish.

This dish is comprised of a rich sauce, made from caramelized garlic and ginger, and pork marinated in soy sauce and oyster sauce. Served over a bowl of hot rice, this is seriously some incredible Lao comfort food. I especially love having it on my meal plan every now and then because it is SO easy to make. It’s my favorite dish, and my husband likes it a lot too! (Which is saying something because that man is so picky.)

This is a dish that you’d more commonly find cooking in households rather than any Thai/Lao restaurants, (at least any of the ones I’ve been to), so let me know what you think of it if you decide to try it out!

What you’ll need:

  • However many eggs you want, I recommend 6-8 for a family of 4
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 3-4 thin slices off a thumb of ginger
  • 1/2 cup of tightly packed brown sugar
  • Pork Belly
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
  • Approximately 4 cups of water
  • 3-4 pieces of Chinese star anise
  • Jasmine rice

First things first, start prepping. Mince your garlic if you’re fancy and buy fresh garlic instead of the already minced garlic in a jar I buy. 😉 You also want to gently scrape the skin off the ginger with a spoon, and thinly slice that up into 3 or 4 slices, or however much you want honestly. Let me say right here that these are just my approximations, if you want lotsa garlic, throw that sucker in! Adjust everything to your personal taste.

If you bought a whole hunk of pork belly (like I ended up doing because I couldn’t find any already sliced) it’s time to cut it up. You want to go for super thin slices, and then cut it so it’s a good size to put the whole thing in your mouth when it’s ready to eat (about an inch or two width). You’ll realize pork belly basically looks like bacon, but it’s more delicious. Who knew that was a thing? After you’re done slicing, put the pork into a bowl with the soy sauce and oyster sauce marinade.

Heat up some oil in a big pot, and toss the garlic and ginger in. Once you start to see a little color on the garlic, toss in the brown sugar and stir it all around until caramelized. You’ll slowly start to see the brown sugar turn into a thick, bubbly liquid mixture, kind of like when you’re making candy. You want to keep an eye on the sugar mixture because it can burn real easily if you aren’t constantly stirring it around. Once it gets to that stage, mix in the pork belly and soy sauce marinade.

Simmer the pork until cooked, and stir in 4 cups of water. You can do more or less, depending on if you think you’ll like the broth sweeter or not as much. For us, 4 cups has always been the perfect amount. Lower the heat to low-med and cover with a lid to simmer. While that is going, now would be the time to peel your hard boiled eggs. You’ll need to toss the eggs into the pot so it can also simmer and get that famous dark brown color. Don’t forget to also throw in those few pieces of star anise at this time. The star anise is one of those great Asian spices that help give this stew that indescribable and incredible taste.

Now is the time to start making your rice! By the time your rice is done cooking, your thom khem will be all ready to eat. If you’ve already made your rice beforehand, just give the thom khem like 20 more minutes to simmer. Voila! All done.

The best way to eat it in my opinion, is to get a good helping of the broth all over the rice, get a bunch of pork belly, and chop up the egg to spread it out so you get a good helping of egg in every bite. The egg is really what makes this meal, so definitely boil as many eggs you think you’d like. Also, if you’re not a fan of pork belly, no problem! I’ve had to substitute pork belly for whatever else kind of meat sounds good at the time, because pork belly can be kind of hard for me to find in my area. I’ve tried it with chicken thighs (it makes the broth kind of greasy though) and with just a long piece of cheap steak, and both versions were sooo good. The meat doesn’t dry out and it’s incredibly tender.

Well, that’s all there is to it! Let me know in the comments or on Instagram what you think of it. 🙂

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