Grilled Pork Chops Vietnamese Style
CHOPS THAT DON’T REQUIRE ‘CRISSCROSS APPLE SAUCE’
Did I mention that I love Vietnamese food? I love it for its flavor, depth and complexity. I love the freshness of vegetables that complement the spiciness of many of its dishes. There’s also an influence of French cooking which quietly mingles and expands its cuisine. Everything, for me, feels and tastes balanced in my mouth.
We always take my Mom every time she visits Denver to this hole in a wall restaurant called New Saigon. For years and years, we were served by the same few people who for some reason could never remember us 🙂 . . . And I’m talking about many years and many visits! We even order the same dish over and over and over again. And no friendly chit-chat what so ever. Their welcome is a sharp “Are you ready to order?” But there’s a reason why we come back over and over again. There’s a reason why we always take my Mom to her favorite restaurant – because their food is simply awesome! Their menu hasn’t even changed for many years, I guess if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Inspired by the greatness of these New Saigon meals, I made myself learn how to cook Vietnamese food. I started with one, and am now collecting multiple Vietnamese cookbooks. One of them is Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan. This grilled pork chops is definitely one of my favorite recipes of his. It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s also sticky, and it is super fragrant! On top of all that goodness, the finely chopped lemongrass gives it great texture. Can you ask for more? I don’t think so.
Sometimes, when I need the pork chops to be a little more “luscious” without making some typical condiment to go with it (such as flavored fish sauce), I use the left over marinade. I bring it to boil in a small sauce pan and keep it warm until I’m ready to eat. I spoon some of the cooked marinade on top of the grilled meat. Pickled cucumber with Thai Bird Chile is another great condiment for the grilled pork chops.
At Vietnamese restaurants, this dish is usually served on a bed of Vermicelli noodles in a bowl. I also like it with some rice. Good stuff guys. Good stuff!
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
- 1½ tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 Thai chile, stemmed and finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 bone-in center cut pork chops, each about 12 ounces and 1 inch thick
- Combine the sugar, fish sauce, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, chile, and black pepper in a bowl. Whisk until the sugar dissolves. Arrange the pork chops, in a single layer, in a ziploc bag. Pour the marinade over and let marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Prepare your grill. Remove the pork chops from the marinade and place them on the grill. You can either discard the marinade, or you can bring the marinade to a boil and simmer (if you like it to make it to be part of your meal.) Cook the pork chops until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chop registers 140°F.
- Transfer the chops to a plate, tent with aluminum foil, and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut the meat from the bone and slice the meat across the grain. Serve with a bowl of rice or vermicelli noodles.