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Vietnamese Grilled Lemon Grass Pork (Thịt Nướng)

4-6 Servings

1½ hours 40 minutes active

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In Vietnam, we learned to make grilled lemon grass pork, or thịt nướng, as part of the dish called bún thịt nướng, a salad of sorts that combines slender rice noodles with grilled pork, pickled and fresh vegetables, tons of herbs and a savory-sweet sauce (nước chấm). To simplify, we focused on the pork along with the pickles and sauce, accompaniments we think are perfect complements to the rich, smoky pork; if you must choose between making either the sauce or pickles, opt for the former. The pork for thịt nướng is not always skewered, but doing so makes it easier to manage the thinly sliced meat on the grill. Lettuce leaves are ideal for wrapping the pork and pickles (dip into the nước chấm before taking a bite) or serve the skewers, sauce and pickles with steamed jasmine rice.




Don’t be afraid to pack the pork tightly onto the skewers. This helps prevent overcooking. If using a gas grill, make sure to allow it to heat covered for about 15 minutes before cleaning and placing the skewers on the grate. This helps ensure that the grill is hot enough that the pork chars nicely.

1½ hours

40 minutes active


  • 2

    pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of surface fat

  • 5

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled


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Bill O.
May 6, 2023
high expectations
This had been in my calendar for a while. When I looked at it a few days ago, I was going to pass on it because it looked like too much work. But I read the reviews, which were excellent, and stayed with it. Let me say that I did a couple of technique changes that I don't think affected the outcome. I charred the pork in a grill pan. I did the eggplant in a cast iron pan, added water and oil, started with a lid on to steam soften and then removed the lid to char. I also used tortillas instead of lettuce. That said, while it was very good, it wasn't as good as I'd expected. It's not a recipe I would give 10 stars to if I could. Very much like a bahn mi sandwich. Also, I thought the fresh herbs overpowered the eggplant.
Regina B.
November 2, 2023
Oh My Goodness, This Is Good!
I’ve been waiting to make this recipe as the only lemongrass I could get (without driving 30-40 minutes) was the small 3” thin stalks I could get through my Full Circle subsription. I finally got to our Asian market, and when I told my husband that we had to get pork shoulder, he reminded me that the Asian market also has thinly sliced frozen pork. That worked so well, and saved so much time! I have never worked with lemon grass before, and only know that I am supposed to smack it (which was not in the recipe directions). I also may not have gotten all of the outer layers off, as it was still tough to chop. Then I messed up and put everything in the Ninja Power Pitcher (rather than processing the veggies, then adding the liquids). However, once on the “Smoothie” setting was perfect. Not entirely smooth, but smooth enough. We “grilled” the pork skewer on a Pit Boss at 400 (the only “grills” we own), so it did not get the char of a charcoal or gas grill (we could have reverse seared, but we were hungry)! My first bite was…. “O, my God, this is good!” We served it with rice noodles, Napa cabbage leaves, and the pickled daikon and carrots, and nouc mam from my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Anchorage.
Huyen P.

This was amazing! And I am Vietnamese. I thought it was on par with my mom’s cooking and that says a lot!

Kim L.

Can you substitute chicken for pork?

Janelle C.

Hi Kim,

Chicken would make a great substitute.

The Milk Street Team

Peg R.

The sauce/paste for the pork - what is the rational for finely chopping the dry ingredients first then adding the liquid ingredients and processing until smooth. Why not add all ingredients (dry and wet) together and then blending (using a stick blender??

Janelle C.

Hi Peg,

You don't want to process until smooth; you want to process until finely chopped. In any case, prepping the dry ingredients allows for more consistent results, which is why the garlic cloves are first smashed, shallots quartered, etc.

The Milk Street Team

Zoe L.

Possible to use oven instead of grill?

Janelle C.

Hi Zoe,

It definitely is. Broil the pork until it browns for about 10-15 minutes flipping halfway through, longer to get those charred bits you would if did grill the pork.

The Milk Street Team

Grace T.

My husband and I cooked this last night, along with the eggplant and nước chấm. We did thin strips of pork on the grill instead of skewers, and the cook time was roughly the same. Everything was incredibly delicious!

Janine C.

We used chicken thighs and it was amazing. We want to try marinating large shrimp & grilling with this next time.

Kim Y.

We loved this recipe! We ended up using a mixture of pork shoulder and pork belly because it's what we had in the freezer already. We did end up marinating the pork overnight because it took longer than expected to slice (maybe because we were working with meat that had been fully frozen and was defrosting) but think I would do the same in the future as the flavors were fantastic. We packed the meat onto skewers very tightly and although it felt like a bit of work, it was easy to grill and got great char but was not overcooked. We made bahn mi type sandwiches with the leftovers including the pickled daikon/carrots and the nu'oc cham - added fresh jalapeno, sliced cucumber, sriracha mayo. Will try soon with chicken thighs!

Deirdre C.

I made this with all the sides and it was terrific, well worth the effort. We had traveled to Vietnam last year and it brought back some wonderful memories.

Sarah F.

This was insanely delicious. Tasted v much like when I was in Vietnam!

Sarah F.

This recipe is amazing. Tasted LEGIT. 10/10 recommend!

Alex H.

Love this recipe! I'll often use pork tenderloin rather than shoulder.