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Vietnamese Grilled Lemon Grass Pork (Thịt Nướng)
1½ hours 40 minutes active
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.
pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of surface fat
medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
01Place the pork on a large plate and freeze until the meat is firm and partially frozen, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the garlic, shallots, lemon grass, chili, five-spice and 1½ teaspoons each salt and pepper. Process until finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and honey, then process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
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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??
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!
This was amazing! And I am Vietnamese. I thought it was on par with my mom’s cooking and that says a lot!