Thit kho and baby’s first pork ribs

It’s been at least 3-4 years since I last made thit kho — Vietnamese braised caramelized pork with eggs. The last time I made it, it was for a Lunar New Year friends’ gathering at home in our last apartment, and I remember using my Instant Pot to make this traditional Vietnamese new year dish, as well as using pork belly, which is traditional. This time, I got the idea from a food blogger I follow to use baby back pork ribs instead since pork ribs are quite a bit leaner than pork belly. Plus, with just two adults and a baby to feed, I really didn’t want to have that much pork belly in the house. So I waited for pork ribs to go on sale at Whole Foods before making this dish. I used my dutch oven to make it and braised it for just over two hours over the stove. It came together really easily with just a handful of ingredients. I also used two bottles of Harmless Harvest coconut water, so we can be certain the coconut juice requirement is legitimate and tasty. As soon as I tasted the braising liquid after a couple hours, I knew the flavor was right. I also knew Kaia Pookie would really enjoy these. Ribs are a great food for babies to eat because it provides chewing/gnawing skills, which help babies understand the “map” of their mouth. And since Kaia’s chewing and tearing skills are already so mature, I knew she’d enjoy the taste as well as the pure act of eating these.

Well, I was right. After dinner last night, our nanny reported that Kaia pretty much cleaned off her entire dinner plate; she gnawed every last bit of meat off both of her rib bones; she loved the ribs so much that when she realized she was done and had no more to eat, she started crying.

That made me so proud: my baby is appreciating traditional, authentic Vietnamese flavors, and at the same time, she’s also respecting her meat enough to get every last bit off the bones. That’s a good baby right there.

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