Thịt Kho Tiêu (braised caramelized pepper pork)

  • 1 lb Pork Belly
  • 2 Tbsp chopped shallots or red onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp sliced bird chili (optional)
  • 1  tsp coconut caramel sauce
  • 2  Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 C water
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • cilantro and/or scallions

1. Cut pork belly into bite size pieces. Marinate pork, shallots, garlic, chili, and caramel sauce for 30 minutes.

2. Heat a clay pot, or medium pan, cook marinated pork on high heat until fat starts to render, about 5 minutes. Add fish sauce and water, bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir periodically add more water if reduction is happening before the pork belly is cooked. Sauce should be thick and glossy. Add black pepper and taste.

This dish is on the saltier side and is usually accompanied by canh cải xanh (mustard green soup) and steamed rice. My mom would make this dish was made using many different proteins; shrimp, salmon, catfish, chicken, or even mushrooms. Cooking times will vary from protein to protein, but the depth of flavor should remain the same from the ingredients and cooking method.


Pantry Staples

As part of our weekly garden share baskets, we have been including recipes that are staples in our pantry/fridge. Various recipes throughout the season will require some of these condiments and sauces. Here are a few recipes to aid you in your journey with our Vietnamese table.

Mỡ Hành (Scallion Oil) makes about 3/4 

8-10 scallions/green onions (thinly sliced)

1/2 C vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

  1. heat oil in a small/medium saucepan on high
  2. add scallions/ remove from heat and mix gently
  3. add salt and sugar, let cool and store in a glass container 
  4. use immediately, or refrigerated for up to 7-10 days, allow to come to room temperature before using

This is a garnish and flavoring more than an oil used for cooking.  It’s best served with grilled meats, vegetables or tossed with rice noodles.  Our favorite was to eat this condiment is over grilled corn.

Đồ Chua (carrot & daikon pickle)

1/2 lb Carrots 

1/2 lb Daikon radish

2 Tbsp kosher or sea salt

4 Tbsp sugar or sugar substitute (not honey)

1 C filtered water

1/2 C white or rice vinegar

  1. Wash, peel, and cut into matchsticks/julienne carrots and daikon. In a colander over a bowl, toss salt with carrots and daikon, allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Gently rinse and squeeze excess water from vegetables.  Add to sterilized jar(s).
  2. Heat sugar, water, and vinegar until sugar is devolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Pour cooled vinegar mixture over vegetables until completely submerged. Seal jars and allow to ferment on the counter for 2-4 days.  After the first 24 hours, check the ferment every 12 hours and taste if the sourness is to your liking.  Place in refrigerator, it will keep for a couple of weeks.  

Ferment will be different for each batch; humidity, heat, and air will play a part.  I typically do a 2 day ferment, sometimes 4 during the winter months.  If you’ve had banh mi, most likely you’ve had Đồ Chua.  I add it to fresh herbs and lettuce wrapped crispy spring rolls (chả giò) dipped in nước chấm with additional chilies. 

Nước Màu Dừa (coconut caramel sauce)

1/2 C sugar 

1/2 coconut water (room temperature)

  1. Add sugar to heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.   The sugar will begin to melt and start caramelizing very quickly, so do not step away.  Once the edges start to turn golden (about 2 minutes), give the pan a swirl so the sugar does not burn.  Allow the mixture to bubble until it turns a dark brown, about another minute.  Remove pan from heat and carefully stream in coconut water.  Be very careful because the mixture will splatter.  Stir vigorously until well combined, allow to cool.  Sauce will thicken as it cools.  Store in a sealed glass container.  Shelf stable for a month

This sauce is one of the most important sauces in Vietnamese cooking.  It is used in very small quantities to add flavor to grilled meats, claypot braised dishes, and marinades.  It has a lovely sweet, smoky flavor that brings color and richness to dishes.  Certain recipes in the future will call for this very condiment.

Nước Chấm (Dipping Sauce)

2 cloves garlic 

1 bird chili or 1 tsp chili paste

1 Tbsp brown or palm sugar 

1 lime

2 Tbsp rice or distilled vinegar

2 Tbsp fish sauce (substitution is not recommended, it’s the most IMPORTANT ingredient)

1/2 C warm water

Special Equipment: Mortar & Pestle

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients and crush with pestle to make a paste, about 4-5 minutes.  Paste should not be smooth, but you want to break down the sugar and other ingredients.  If not using a M&P: finely chop garlic and chili, continue mixing everything in jar/container
  2. Squeeze lime into mortar, mix, then pour into a glass jar or container.  Add vinegar, fish sauce and water.  Stir well and taste.
  3. Adjust with more sugar, lime, vinegar, and/or fish sauce.  The flavor should be a balance of salty, sweet, and tangy.  Will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks

This is a classic sauce I always have in the fridge.  A very versatile sauce that I use for dipping lettuce wraps, crispy spring rolls and dressing noodle salad bowls.  One of my favorite meals for breakfast is a fried egg with scallion oil over steamed rice with a couple spoonfuls of nước chấm.  

This season

Usually as spring rolls over our snow capped farm we are excited and happy. Obviously this year is a little different, but not by much. The ground is getting prepped and the plants are filling rooms in our house as they all begin to bloom.

We will update over the next few days with our latest plans, because as with almost everyone else in the world right now, we are changing, adapting and learning to dance to a new rhythm. Certainly we’ll have flowers and vegetables available, but as of today, we are working exactly how that will look.

If you can, if you’re able, get out and enjoy some sunshine, maybe prep a bed for a victory garden of your own and let’s weather this storm stronger, healthier and with the right sense of purpose.

2020 Garden Plan

We are excited to share the layout and crops we are growing here at 328North Farm for the 2020 season.  Our growing area is broken down to two sections, front and back.  Check out our expansion and the exciting new varieties we are adding to the homestead this year.  Thank you to all of those who continue to support our efforts of living a sustainable life.


Winter 2020

There is snow and ice on the ground, the garden a sheet of dangerous but beautiful stillness and we are busy looking at seed catalogs.

The secret, one of many, to a big healthy summer garden is the behind the scenes work that must get done in the middle of winter. Mostly though, we spend some time reading and creating other projects, because come early spring we will be in the mud building out our garden once again.

2018 Homestead

Spring has finally arrived here in the Northern Berkshires. It’s been a whirlwind Fall and Winter here at 328North, but we’re geared up and excited for this year’s growing season.  Our first fall here, in 2014, we built the first three garden boxes; where we planted the asparagus and garlic.  Spring 2015Nothing was more exciting than seeing the first spears of asparagus and garlic peak through the dirt!

We are entering our fourth growing season here and I’ve never been more excited! The past three seasons have presented us with many rewards and challenges, which have lead us to be more successful.  The most valuable lesson I’ve learned has been about the varieties of vegetables and herbs will do best in my climate. Because of these lessons learned,  Mother Earth has given an abundance which allowed us to preserve, freeze, store, and share our harvests with our friends and neighbors.

Winter is always a time to contemplate and plan for the coming season.  Because of our success in saving seeds last year, we have an abundance I’ve been able to swap with other growers nationwide.  Seedlings have been started indoors and the greenhouse has been cleaned and prepped for incoming plants.

We’re always trying to figure out ways to make our homestead more successful for us.  A tree fell on our large coop last year and we haven’t rebuilt it yet.  IMG_0545Because we added twenty-five chicks to our remaining flock of six hens, we have decided to rebuilt the coop beyond the berry patch and fruit orchard.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 4.31.02 PMThere are many changes to our homestead this year and we wanted to share our progress.  The three links below are for each section of our homestead.  If you would like the a tour, and/or interested in any starter plants, contact either one of us.

Happy Spring!

Matt & Tu

Section 1

Section 2 

Section 3.


We’ve been busy here at 328North working on a lot of outdoor projects, but I’ve managed to get a jump start here in our zone 5a.  If there is any advice I can give to other gardeners is to PLAN.  Being organized and prepared allows us here to have food that last us through the next growing season.  We’ve been lucky enough to still be eating produce we’ve preserved, froze or have stored in the cellar.  Here are some of our seedlings, starts, and perennials we have coming up so far.



Asparagus (planted 2014)

purple magnolia snap pea

Thom Thumb peas (bush)

Magestic & Laxton’s Progress peas (vine/shell)


Elephant garlic


German purple garlic (hardneck)

IMG_0267 2
purple majestic Kohlrabi

California early garlic (soft neck)

Rhubarb (planted 2014)

Brussel Sprouts

Brunswick cabbage

Calabrese Broccoli


Radish (watermelon, cherry bell, French rose)

starts in the greenhouse

Tomatoes (Yellow Icicle)

lemongrass (planted 2015)


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