Lemongrass is one of those ingredients I can't get enough of. The subtle, floral lemon fragrance is completely addictive. These Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops, known as Thit Heo Nuong Xa are one of the country's tastiest offerings. The lemongrass creates a wonderful fragrance to the marinated pork and when married with a bit of char from the grill, it becomes other worldly.
Making these pork chops is super simple too. There's not a lot to it.
Step-by-step Vietnamese Pork Chops
Step 1: Chopping the lemongrass!
We only need the bottom 1/3 of the lemongrass stalk - often referred to as the 'white part'. Simply slice the lemongrass from the tough root end (discard the really tough bit) until it begins to turn green.
TIP: keep the remaining stalks in a plastic bag in the freezer. They make excellent little flavour enhancers to Thai curries - just give them a gentle bash with a rolling pin and drop them into a curry sauce to let them seep out their magic.
Step 2: Creating the marinade for the pork chops
Chop all the marinade ingredients finely or you can do this in the food processor to combine everything. We have all four South East Asian flavour bases covered – Sweet, sour, salt and spice all feature in this marinade. You just KNOW it's going to be delicious! Overall, the prominent flavours are sweet and salt - the spice is very subtle.
Step 3: Marination!
Now, all we need to do is pour the marinade over our pork and toss to coat everything. You can do this in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, or you can pop into a zip-lock bag. Either way, we want to give the marinade enough time to work its magic. I would say 24 hours is best - it REALLY does make a difference. If you're short on time, you can marinate for 4 hours. How does that sound?
Step 4: Making the Nước chấm dipping sauce.
No Vietnamese lemongrass pork chop is complete without the essential Nước chấm dipping sauce. A heady fish sauce-based dressing that is sweet, sour and salty - it's utterly delicious and completely addictive and the perfect accompaniment drizzled over your salad, rice and of course, lemongrass pork chop! My Nước chấm recipe will make around 2 cups of sauce, which is probably more than you'll need, but the excellent news is that it'll keep in a jar, in the fridge for up to 3 months!
So there you have it! A wonderful, authentic Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop - Thit Heo Nuong Xa, if you're fancy! You won't be able to tell the difference from Vietnamese restaurant-style pork chop! It's so wonderful served alongside the Vietnamese fluffy broken rice. If you can't get hold of broken rice, don't worry - use jasmine rice instead - that's all broken rice is anyway. The fresh salad on the side is a cool, crunchy counter to the juicy, fragrant pork, so the dish perfectly balances textures and creates a light, bright dish that's amongst one of my all-time favourite Vietnamese dishes.
More delicious Vietnamese recipes to try at home.
If you liked this dish, why not give some (or all) of my other Vietnamese recipes a try. They're all tried-and-tested-delicious.
Combine all the marinade ingredients with the pork and leave covered or in a plastic bag in the fridge for as long as you can! 24 hours is great, 4 hours minimum.
Once marinated, heat a BBQ grill or a skillet pan. Cook the pork chops for about 4-5 minutes per side (depending how thick your chops are) a thicker chop may take 5-7 per side. My chops were about 1-inch (2.5cm) thick.
Leave the chops to rest for 2 minutes before serving.
For the Nước chấm dipping sauce
Boil the water and when hot, pour over the sugar. Add the fish sauce and vinegar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Add the garlic and chilli and stir. Leave to cool to room temperature. You can store in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 months.
For the accompaniments
Make a simple salad with cucumber, tomato, cilantro and mint. Serve a little cooked broken rice (or Jasmine rice) alongside the salad and the little Nước chấm dipping sauce on the side in individual bowls per person.
A delicious addition to this plate is a crispy fried egg. Simply put 1/4 cup canola oil in a non-stick frying pan and heat until hot. Add an egg and let it puff up in the hot oil. Holding the pan and a slight angle, spoon hot oil over to puff up the top. Let the bottom of the egg crispen without fully cooking the yolk. Remove to a paper towel then pop on top of your rice. Delicious!