An easy marinade gives this Vietnamese lemongrass pork tons of flavor. A quick cook up on the grill and you have one delicious, flavorful main.
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When we were planning (OK, realistically when I was planning) our honeymoon years ago now, we wanted to do a bit of a tour in South East Asia. The trouble was, we just couldn’t quite fit everywhere in and so many places sounded interesting. Personally I probably would have just taken extra time off and made a bigger trip but my husband isn’t as up for long trips unless you are based in one place.
So, I had to scale back our trip to a few places. It was still wonderful, and I tried lots of great foods like larp (Laos chicken salad), green papaya salad and many more, but we ended up missing out Vietnam.
Vietnam has been on my list of places I want to go for ages. There are so many sights I want to visit and the food is, naturally, a big part of what I would want to experience as well. Friends who have been all rave about the food. We’ll get there one day, but in the meantime I get to explore from my kitchen.
How to make Vietnamese lemongrass pork
This Vietnamese lemongrass pork is a pretty common Vietnamese dish and it’s packed with the flavors you might expect of the region. Lemongrass, fish sauce and garlic all pack in tons of flavor and get right into the pork as it marinades. In fact, you can see the meat change color a bit after a while.
It’s a very easy marinade to mix up – either put it all in a small blender or chop things finely and mix. Then grill it up and enjoy. You’ll get some lovely little caramelized bits on the outside and the inside is nice and tender.
What pork cut is best?
In terms of which cut of pork to use, you can use pork chops, as some recipes do, but I think this is a great recipe to use cheaper cuts like pork shoulder (as in this recipe which I have used as a base and adapted slightly). That way you get a nice balance of meat and fat which helps keep the meat tender and moist as it cooks. It also has a great flavor – it’s so often the case that ‘lesser’ cuts are some of the most flavorful, they just aren’t as lean and can need slower cooking.
Here, the marinade helps to tenderize the meat. I used boneless country-style ribs, which on investigating, is generally basically shoulder. It’s not a cut we have in the UK, where I grew up, so I found this article helpful to understand the cut.
This Vietnamese lemongrass pork was loved by all of us, with a wonderful sweet-salty flavor and the freshness of the lemongrass. I served it with rice, salad and quick-pickled carrots (as in my Vietnamese style pork and rice bowl), but it would also be good with a cold rice noodle salad. Just make sure you give it a try, it’s so good!
Try these other international grilling recipes:
- Sosaties (South African lamb and apricot kebabs)
- Lamb kofte
- Chicken gyros with tzatziki
- Plus get more grilling ideas, salads and more in the summer recipes archives.
Vietnamese lemongrass pork (Thit Heo Nuong Xa)
- 1 lb boneless pork shoulder 450g, or use other boneless cut
- 2 tbsp lemongrass minced (I used pre-prepared)
- 2 tbsp shallot or onion finely diced (1 small shallot)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar 20g
- 1 tbsp garlic minced, (2-3 cloves)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Cut the pork into chunks, approx 1in/2.5cm by 2in/5cm.
- Mix together the remaining ingredients - if you are not using pre-prepared lemongrass I'd suggest blending it all together, otherwise fine to just mix well. Add the pork to the sauce and leave to marinade for at least 2 hours, but all day/overnight if possible, refrigerated.
- Take the pork our of the fridge approx 20min before cooking while the grill heats ups. Grill the pork chunks on the grill/BBQ for approx 5min per side, depending on heat/size of pieces. You want the pork cooked through but not too cooked so it dries out.
- Serve with rice or noodles, maybe some quick picked carrots and daikon radish and salad (or as you prefer).
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