Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lemongrass Marinated Pork Chops

In college, I lived with two other Vietnamese girls who also loved food and loved to cook. The roommate who taught me the most about cooking was Nga who is a great cook. I used to watch her dice ginger into little bits and was amazed by her knife skills. Together, we experimented with making Korean BBQ, Vietnamese eggrolls, lotus salads, Pho, etc. We always had a great time.

When we actually made it out to an Asian store, we went wild. Riverside, Ca is about an hour east of Los Angeles and there wasn't an Asian grocery out there (kind of like DC). So when we made it out to an Asian store, we would stock up on things such as mangos, asian herbs, and different condiments. Back then, the only lemongrass I knew about was the one that was already frozen and already chopped up. It wasn't until I moved to DC that I really started using the fresh stalk. Now I can never go back to the frozen green stuff (I don't know know how they get it so green.) Its just so easy and more flavorful to buy the fresh stalk, rough chop it, and place it in the food processor to grind up. The smell is just amazing.

If you plan to buy lemongrass in DC, buy it at Whole Foods. They charge something like $5 per lb but lemongrass is so light that you end up paying $1 for a stalk which goes a long way in terms of flavor. Its fresh and the flavor is good. The biggest rip off is the packaged kind sold at Safeway and Giant that is already cut up. I end up paying $4 and they were flavorless the last few times I bought them.

When Nga made me this lemongrass marinated pork chop, I was really amazed how easy it was. She pan fried it and got enough heat on the pork chops to give the fatty edges a delicious smokey flavor without drying out the meat. She would add chili flakes to the marinade to give it a bit of spice.

This marinade is pretty awesome. Its kind of sweet and kind of salty. The lemongrass gives it this nice, fresh taste. My favorite bite is the crispy fatty edge. Its just a bite full of goodness. I made this for a meal for some friends. I'm not sure if it was the pork chops or the wine but it was a warm and lovely night.

Lemongrass Marinated Pork Chops
Adapted from Viet World Kitchen

This marinade will work with any pork chop. Of course, the more fat in the meat, the more flavor you are going to get out of the pork chop. Pork chops are normally very inexpensive. I buy them on sale when they are $1.49 per lb but at most, I've seen them sold for $2.99 per lb.


1 pound boneless pork shoulder steak, about 1/2 inch thick

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons granulated or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped shallot or yellow onion
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon dark (black) soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oil

Put the sugar, garlic, shallot and lemongrass into an electric mini chopper and process to a fine texture. (Or, mince the garlic, shallot, and lemongrass individually, put them into a bowl, and add the sugar.) Add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil and process to combine well. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the pork, and turn to coat well. Cover and marinate overnight. Let it sit out for an hour before cooking.

Preheat a grill (or pan) to medium-high. Grill/panfry for 6 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. If you like the fatty edges to crisp up a bit, let it sit on one side a bit longer until you see the edges smoking. Nick with a knife to test. Serve with Jasmine rice and slices of cucumbers and tomatoes.


  1. I want to be invited to dinner now ;)

  2. I'll give this a try tonight. Thanks for the information. I worked at a Cambodian Restaurant and Jerry the Owner Chef made a great lemongrass pork chop. Do you think Galangal could be added to this?