I will be the first to admit that I do not have enough Asian foods in my cooking repertoire. I will also openly admit a lot of it is because I am afraid of the wok. Something about the level of heat and Benjamin rushing into the kitchen just doesn’t seem to make me want to explore it right now.
But you know when you see a picture of something and it just looks so GOOD and you just have to find out more about the dish? Well, that happened here. I didn’t have high hopes for being able to prepare it because I expected it to be done in a wok.
WRONG! No! It’s grilled!
Hot damn, let’s make some Vietnamese food!
First, you should know this is SUPER EASY. Second you should know this is SUPER DELICIOUS. Like, restaurant-quality delicious. Third, it’s not overly salty – I could wear my rings easily the next day. Fourth, you should know that ingredients really do make a difference.
The original recipe calls for a very dark, thick soy sauce called hac xi dau in Vietnamese. I didn’t have it, so I used a regular, organic soy sauce that I had on hand. It was perfectly delicious, but the meat didn’t take on the gorgeous, syrupy mahogany color you see above. If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend you do.
As always, for health and lifestyle choices, I cook with organic ingredients, but this will work equally well with conventional products. Everything but the special soy sauce should be available at your local grocery store.
GRILLED VIETNAMESE LEMONGRASS PORK
1 lb organic boneless pork shoulder steak, about 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons organic light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped organic garlic
1 tablespoon chopped organic shallot or yellow onion
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped (roughly 3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dark (black) soy sauce (substitute organic regular soy if you have to)
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon organic canola oil
1. Cut the pork shoulder steak into pieces about 3 to 4 inches big. Place into a medium-sized bowl.
2. Place the sugar, garlic, shallot (or onion) and lemongrass into an electric mini-chopper and process to a fine paste. (Alternatively, mince the garlic, shallot, and lemongrass, put them into a bowl and add the sugar, but the mixer is better.)
3. Add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil and process to combine well. Aim for a relatively smooth texture. The marinade will be chocolate brown if using the Vietnamese soy, a little brown if using a regular soy.
4. Pour over the pork in the bowl and turn to coat well. Cover and set aside at room temperature to marinate for 1 hour. (Or, refrigerate up to 24 hours, but you’ll need to let the meat sit out at room temperature for 45 minutes to remove the chill before grilling.)
5. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. Don’t walk away from the grill – this cooks quickly.
6. Transfer to a plate, loosely cover with foil for 10 minutes before serving.