Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops – a simple Vietnamese-style marinade with lemongrass, shallots, garlic, sugar, and fish sauce adds so much flavor to pork chops that grills in minutes! This post is brought to you in paid partnership with the National Pork Board.
As I write, I’m currently sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight to return home from the first trip I’ve taken in over 17 months. For someone who used to travel often, it was a strange feeling pulling my suitcase out of the closet. Navigating myself through the once-familiar halls of the airport was stranger still.
This trip – to drop my daughter off at college – was a necessary one. Once I return home, my bags will return to the dark corners of the closet once again.
Experiencing this little taste of travel reminded me how I’ve missed exploring! I’ve missed practicing different languages, wandering, and eating my way through different cities. Especially the eating.
While I’ve adjusted to a life where I don’t have to live out of a suitcase, I can never rest easy not exploring new foods.
My remedy? Explore those bucket-list flavors closer to home.
Sườn nướng, or marinated grilled Vietnamese Pork Chops, are one of those bucket-list dishes that I would love to eat in Vietnam one day. For now, I savor the thin slices of caramelized grilled pork, marinated in a simple bath of lemongrass, fish sauce, and sugar, at my favorite local Vietnamese restaurant.
I always eat the restaurant version of Vietnamese Pork Chops deep in thought, trying to understand the balance in the marinade, and figuring out how to make it at home. It’s not a complicated dish. But it has complicated flavors, thanks to a combination of bold, salty fish sauce and soy sauce, aromatics such as lemongrass and shallot, and sweetness from brown sugar.
How to Make Vietnamese Pork Chops
I’ve consulted a myriad of sources to create a recipe that closely resembles the dish I love to order. Please keep in mind that this adaptation attempts to replicate the flavors I have learned to love, and I hope you love it just as much as I do!
I’ve learned that the mortar and pestle is the preferred tool of choice, similar to my Filipino mother’s recipes where mashing the ingredients releases the flavors necessary to infuse the pork with that balanced tang.
If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, use a food processor or fine knife work. However, there’s something very therapeutic about mashing the ingredients into a paste by hand, if you can.
Meanwhile, let’s talk pork. Thin-cut pork works best here, and I like to opt for boneless, top loin pork chops. The thin-cut pork is critical, because firstly, it allows the flavor to truly penetrate the meat. And secondly, it grills in mere minutes!
Once you’ve made the marinade, the hardest part is done. Time is all you need to let the pork chops soak in the flavor — overnight is best, if possible. Since the pork chops are so thin, you really only need to grill the chops for a few minutes per side.
How to Serve Vietnamese Pork Chops
One last thing. Don’t forget the dipping sauce, or nuoc cham. Whip up this easy sauce as you marinate the meat. A balance of sweet and acid from lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce, makes this a versatile sauce, and I like to add garlic and a garlic chili oil for extra punch.
Serve up the Vietnamese grilled pork over a bed of rice or rice noodles, with fresh herbs and vegetables, and Nuoc Cham!
More Grilled Pork Recipes
Grilled Pineapple Pork Chops
Filipino Pork Barbecue Bowl and Spicy Korean-Style Meatball BowlGrilled Pork Skewers with Balsamic Marinade
Grilled Balsamic-Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Adobo-style Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with the The National Pork Board. Thank you for supporting brands that matter to me; sponsored posts such as this help behind the scenes at Kitchen Confidante. All opinions in this post are, as always, my own.
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Vietnamese-style Grilled Pork Chops
For the Pork
- 1 medium shallot finely chopped
- 2 stalks lemongrass use the white bottom 4 inches, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole white peppercorns or 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 pound boneless top loin pork chops thin-cut
For the Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce or more, to taste (optional)
Marinate the pork:
- Place the shallot, lemongrass, garlic, brown sugar, and peppercorns in a heavy mortar and pestle. Mash until the mixture is about the consistency of a chunky paste. This can also be done in a small food processor if you prefer. Stir in the brown sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce.
- Place the marinade and pork chops into a resealable bag or covered glass container, and transfer to the refrigerator. Marinate for at least 6 hours, or ideally, overnight, flipping periodically.
Make the Nuoc Cham:
- In a small bowl, combine the water, sugar, and lime juice, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Adjust to taste for balance. Stir in the fish sauce, garlic and chili garlic sauce, if using. Adjust to taste. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Grill the Pork:
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Brush the pork chops with olive oil on both sides. Place the chops on the grill over high heat, cover, and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until the pork chops are fully cooked with an internal temperature of 145°F. Remove the pork chops off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Slice and serve the grilled pork chops over rice or rice noodles, with fresh vegetables and the Nuoc Cham sauce.