- [Lidia] Christine invited me to her house to cook.
- Welcome to my home kitchen, Lidia.
- Christine, thank you very much for inviting me.
I'm so excited.
I really am.
What are we cooking?
What are you gonna teach me?
- I'm gonna make Thit Kho, a braised pork belly dish.
So we've got the ingredients here.
It was probably the dish that I felt my mom cooked the most because it used not a lot of ingredients, very inexpensive ingredients.
- This is, has a lot of, a lot of heartfelt memories- - It does.
- For you.
- It's very much a comfort dish.
- Because you did lose your mother when you were young.
- Yes, I lost my mom at 14 and she never taught me how to cook- - ahh!
- And this was probably one of the first dishes that I was able to recreate that reminded me of her, and so it keeps the memory of my mom alive in the kitchen.
After my mom died, I really did miss the foods that I grew up eating, and so it's been kind of my lifelong mission since then to preserve her memory and her food through the dishes that I cook.
So, grabbing the pot, we're going to traditionally braise this dish the way my mom did it.
Lidia, if you could put the pork in that pot.
- Put the pork.
As a child, you know, getting up in the morning and smelling the aromas coming into your room from mom or grandma cooking downstairs, she recaptured all of that sensibility and security and belonging by cooking the food of her mother.
- [Christine] I will chop some shallot.
- How amazing.
You feel exactly where you're going?
- [Christine] Knife safety, I think, is the same regardless if you have vision or not.
- [Lidia] True, sure.
- [Christine] But it would be kind of funny if, because I'm nervous that you're in my kitchen today and about to taste my food (Lidia laughs) that this is the one day- - Don't you dare be.
- I like, cut my finger off.
Around the same time I started loving to cook and trying to learn everything I could about cooking was the time that I started losing vision first in one of my eyes.
- [Lidia] She lost her vision in a slow progression due to a rare autoimmune disease.
- Every time I would lose more and more vision, I would have to teach myself again, starting from the very basics how to cook.
Coming here, Vietnamese people didn't have access to fresh coconut, or they couldn't afford it, so we would use coconut soda.
- So that's what your mother did- - My mom used coconut.
- All of it?
Should I put all?
- All of it, yes.
- Yeah, okay.
- I had to depend less and less on my sight and more on my remaining senses.
My hearing, my smell, my taste, all of these senses became much more important.
Oh, I can hear it boiling now.
If you hear- - Yeah.
- If you're silent- - It's foaming all around.
- [Lidia] Yeah, I think you could use a mix.
- [Christine] Yeah, I'm gonna give it a quick stir, but I'm trying to be careful not to break the eggs and stuff.
- [Lidia] Sure.
- And then I will cover, we'll turn the heat down, 'cause I definitely know it's boiling now.
- And then we'll turn it down to simmer, and let it braise, for a couple hours.
- Very nice.
She would listen at the crackle, at the boil in the pot and she would know at which point that food, that dish, is.
If you're missing one, then you supplement with another sense.
So how would you begin?
Rice and egg, or- - [Christine] Just dig in like any, I think try to get a little bit of everything in your bite.
- [Lidia] Okay.
- So definitely because the pork is salty and rich, like you want rice to kind of help mellow it out; the egg will add a little bit of more of that fat texture.
- Okay, okay.
Hmm, really good.
Christine, thank you very much for having your kitchen for teaching me this great dish and we should cook some more together.
- Thank you, Lidia.
It's my honor to have you in my kitchen.
- Next time- - Yeah?
- You come to my kitchen, and I teach some Italian dish?
It'll be my honor.
- My pleasure.
- Thank you.
- Thank you.