Thursday, December 09, 2004

Grilled lemongrass porkchops

I was going to post a "healthy" noodle with vegetables dish, because it's starting to look quite T-Rexxy in here...but I'm more excited about this Vietnamese pork chop recipe.
First a warning: you must make a "patis caramel" which will make your kitchen smell quite pungent. A good thing (in my Tita Martha accent)...for driving away unwanted houseguests or strangers at the door trying to sell you fundraisers.
This is enough for 8 3/4 inch thick pork chops. Remove from refrigerator an hour before pouring the marinade over.
Make the fish sauce caramel:
melt 3 tbsps. of granulated sugar in a heavy sauce pan or clay pot over low heat(you may add a tbsp. of water to help it along). After it caramelizes, pour 1/4 cup of fish sauce and 1/3 cup of water. At this point it will bubble up and smell up your joint...
Turn down the heat and stir constantly to melt the sugar mass (looks like patis candy).
Cool the syrupy liquid and add 1 tbsp. of dark soy sauce, 2 stalks of trimmed, chopped and pounded lemon grass, 2 thinly sliced shallots, 6 smashed garlic cloves.

Pour over the pork chops.

Marinate at least an hour, or up to a day.
(I imagine the pigs here have been put on a diet or on a strict exercise regimen with a nasty trainer...they are too lean! and therefore tend to dry out and be chewy. Longer marinating helps to tenderize and flavorize.)

Grill over a charcoal flame or use your broiler, about 3-5 minutes per side depending on thickness of pork chops.
After grilling, set chops over rice and serve...the drippings taste heavenly especially over broken rice and with pickled carrots and daikon radish, just like they serve at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant.
The marinade is very can use it for skewered pork, chicken, or fish for grilling.
**If you think making the caramel might drive even your family away, you can just mix the sugar, fish sauce and water and stir over low heat (until sugar dissolves) but the depth of flavor just won't be the same.