Vietnamese Grilled Pork (Thit Heo Nuong Xa)
Before dating my Vietnamese boyfriend, I only ate thit heo nuong xa out at restaurants. For some odd reason I thought they would be very intimidating to make (maybe because they are too delicious) so never really thought to make them myself at home. Then I met a man who is in love with Vietnamese food as much as (possibly more) he is with me.
Since cooking is one of our favorite activities to do together, naturally I became more exposed to cooking Vietnamese food at home. This dish is soooo simple to make and has easily become a family favorite- kid approved so you know it’s gotta be good. ;)
You can prepare this dish in a variety of ways- oven roasted, pan fried or grilled. Although grilled is the preferred way to cook the pork, I usually oven roast them since it is more practical. We usually eat the pork chops doused generously with green onion oil (mo hanh), with steamed broken rice (cơm tấm), fish sauce dipping sauce (nuoc mam), vietnamese pickled radishes and carrots (do chua) I usually buy pre-made at the local asian market and fresh veggies like thai basil, lettuce, fresh thai chilies or tomatoes.
Our “thing” is to melt our favorite butter on top of the hot rice too, which we have nicknamed as “udder butter” because it tastes so gamey like it has just been made after being milked from a French grass-fed cow. On the real though, Vietnamese folks don’t play when it comes to good french butter. Thank goodness for that because I have an unhealthy obsession with butter. Butter why you so good??? :(
Note to self: make a post dedicated to butter. Haha.
Without further ado, here is my recipe!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Marinade Time: 30 minutes - overnight
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves : 6 to 8
2 lbs. pork chops or loins (~1/3 in. thick)
1/4 cup fresh lemon grass
peeled garlic cloves from one whole garlic bulb
1/3 cup fish sauce (we use Three Crabs Brand)
1 tb soy sauce (the bf recommends this one)
1 tbl rice wine vinegar
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbl of neutral tasting vegetable oil
1 tbl sugar
How to make it:
Rough chop lemongrass into small pieces (~1/2 inch) and put into a food processor.
*Make sure to peel off the tough outer leaves (usually the green ones) and cut off the bulb before it is ready for use. Here is nice visual tutorial.
Add in garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, black pepper, vegetable oil and sugar into the food processor and blend until smooth but not liquified.
Place pork into a durable ziploc bag and add in marinade. Push out all the air from the bag and zip it to close tightly. Massage the marinade into the meat and until all the marinade is evenly distributed.
4. Twist the top of the bag until there is no wriggle room is left for the pork and marinade in the bag. This method ensures even and optimal distribution of flavor. Use a bag clip or twist tie to keep in place and refrigerate overnight. If wanting to prepare the dish soon, you may leave the mixture out in room temperature for up to 30 minutes.
5. To cook here are some suggested methods:
Oven roasted (the method I used): Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Place pork on foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle foil with some oil. Place pork about an inch apart. Roast each side for 20 minutes. Let rest for at least 5 minutes after pulling out from the oven. Slice and top with green onion oil and serve.
Pan fried: Heat a skillet over medium high heat and drizzle in some cooking oil. Cook each side of the pork chops for about 6 to 8 minutes and serve. Let rest in pan for at least 5 minutes. Slice and top with green onion oil and serve.
Grilled: Preheat grill to medium high and grill each side for about 6 to 8 minutes. Slice and top with green onion oil and serve. Let rest on serving plate for at least 5 minutes. Slice and top with green onion oil and serve.
After roasting these pork chops use a kitchen blowtorch to emulate a grilled flavor. Torch each side until edges slightly brown but are not blackened. Make sure not to place the torch too close to the meat otherwise this will affect the flavor.
Happy eating friends!