Grilled Lemongrass Pork

So this is one pays homage to my brother because we both have taken our mom’s original recipe and put our own little spin to it.  He uses a rotisserie oven (which keeps the meat super moist) because he’s badass, but I’m going to resort to my roommate’s Foreman grill because I’m a poor grad student.  I’ve also used this same marinade on chicken and it turned out fantastic, but I’m not sure if it would go well with any red meats (but you are more than welcome to give it a shot!)

Also, for those of you who fear fish sauce (I must admit, it is quite pungent), you can always substitute it with salt.  I don’t know the exact measurements because I never really use it, but it’s definitely an alternative if sauce of fish isn’t your thing.  And if you do end up using fish sauce, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly or else it will follow you forever (not really forever, but for the rest of the day).

Grilled Lemongrass Pork (Thịt Heo Sả Nướng)
(serves 4)

2 pieces of pork chops (bone in or boneless) or shoulder blade steak (honestly, I don’t remember what cut I bought this time, only that it was 50% off at Ralph’s)

to make the marinade:
2 tbsp of minced lemongrass (you can buy it frozen at a Vietnamese or Chinese market or put fresh lemongrass in the food processor)
5 tsp fish sauce
1/4 of a medium-sized onion, finely sliced
4 tsp garlic powder
ground black pepper

1/2 cup of scallion oil (see below)
fish sauce, to serve
garlic chili sauce, to serve
steamed white rice, to serve

  1. Dry the pork with a paper towel.
  2. On a cutting board, season one side of each chop with a pinch of pepper and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (more or less, depending on the size of the cut) then spread 1/2 tbsp of minced lemongrass on top of each.
  3. Take a reusable container (I’m using my Pyrex) and sprinkle 1/4 of the sliced onion so that it’s well spread on the bottom and add 2 tsp of fish sauce.
  4. Take one chop and put it seasoned side down into the container and rub it around a little so that it picks up all the fish sauce.
  5. Since the unseasoned side is now up, sprinkle a pinch of pepper and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder on it and spread 1/2 tbsp of the minced lemongrass.
  6. Add 1 tsp of the fish sauce and rub the lemongrassy fish saucy mixture into the chop and on the sides to make sure every part of it has gotten some love.
  7. Sprinkle 1/2 of the sliced onion to cover the chop.
  8. Add 1 tsp of the fish sauce onto the seasoned side of the remaining chop.  Put it seasoned side down onto the other chop and rub it in so they can get to know each other.
  9. Season the last side with a pinch of pepper and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and spread the last 1/2 tbsp of lemongrass.  Add the last 1 tsp of the fish sauce and rub it into the meat before sprinkling the remaining sliced onion on top.  Take some of the onion and put it along the sides of the chops so that it can pick up some oniony loveliness, too.
  10. Close it up and marinate for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.
  11. When you’re ready to grill them, scrape all the onion and some of the lemongrass off the chops (the onions will burn and lemongrass doesn’t have the best texture in your mouth).  Adjust the grill time based on how thick your cut of pork is.  Mine was about 1/2 inch and I used the Foreman grill for about 15 minutes.  Take them off the grill and let them rest while you make the scallion oil.
  12. After resting for 10 minutes, cut the pork against the grain into 1/8-inch thick slices.  Arrange them on a serving platter and spread the scallion oil on top of it all.
  13. Add as much garlic chili sauce to the fish sauce as you prefer.  Dip the pork into the fish sauce and eat it with white rice.  Delish!

Scallion Oil (Hành Mỡ):
(makes about 1/2 cup)

2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil (some people use more, but I keep it minimal)
1 bunch of green onions (AKA scallions), chopped into 1/8 inch pieces

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan on high heat (keep an eye on it because it will heat up fast).
  2. When the oil seems liquidy when you swirl it (but NOT to the point where it’s smoking), take it off the heat and add the green onions.  Taking it off the heat will decrease the oil splatter and likelihood of you getting burned.  If it does get to the smoking point, take the saucepan off the heat and wait a couple minutes before adding the green onions.  Once the green onions are added, put the saucepan back onto the heat.
  3. Use a spoon and continually mix the green onions for about 30 seconds.  They will look vibrantly green and a little wilted, but still have some structure to them.  Turn the heat off and transfer the green onions to a small bowl.  They will continue to cook while they sit.

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