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Vietnamese-Style Pork



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Vietnamese-Style Pork

The Minimalist Cooks Dinner:
More than 100 Recipes for Fast
Weeknight Meals and Casual Entertaining

by Mark Bittman, 2001, Broadway Books, a division of Random House

Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Makes 4 servings

“This dish has the beguiling, distinctively Southeast Asia aroma of garlic – lots
of it – nuoc mam (the Vietnamese fish sauce known more commonly by its Thai
name, nam pla), and lime. But there are a couple of ‘secret ingredients’ as well, including mildly acidic lemongrass and spicy black pepper in large quantities. Traditionally, this dish also contains caramelized sugar, which contributes a
burnt sweetness but the intense heat of the grill makes honey a good substitute,
and a much easier one. So the marinade can be assembled in 10 minutes, the
grill preheated in another 10, and the pork grilled in 10: a great, intensely
flavored, 30-minute dish.”

2 tablespoons minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce), or
to taste (you may substitute soy sauce)
2 limes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds country-style pork chops,
preferably boneless
Chopped Thai basil, mint, cilantro, or
a combination, optional

1. Combine the lemongrass, garlic, honey, and nam pla in a bowl; whisk
to blend. Add the juice of 1 lime and lots of pepper – about a teaspoon.
Marinate the pork in this mixture while you start a charcoal or wood
fire, preheat a gas grill to the maximum, or preheat a broiler; the fire
should be moderately hot, and the grill rack should be about 4 inches
from the heat source.
2. Grill or broil the pork, spooning the marinade over it as it cooks, until
done, about 10 minutes. Turn only once, so that each side browns
nicely. Serve with wedges of lime, garnished with the optional herb.

Keys to Success

You can use pork chops for this dish, but so-called country-style ribs (actually
the shoulder end of the pork loin) remain moister during grilling. And if you
can find these “ribs” with the bone out, so much the better – you’ve essentially got a 1-inch-thick pork loin steak that grills beautifully.
To prepare lemongrass, first peel it like a scallion. Virtually the entire inner
core is tender enough to mince (in the winter, when the stalks have been in
storage, you may have to peel off layer after layer to fine the edible center).
Figure a yield of about a tablespoon of minced lemongrass per stalk.

Serving suggestion:
Cold Noodles with Sesame (or Peanut) Sauce

Featured Archive Recipe:
Five-Spice Pork and Green Bean Stir-Fry
Peanut-Crusted Ribs (Vong)


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