or, Irresistable and Healthy, too!
Oh, my, is this stuff delicious! I seriously could eat this every day and not ever get tired of it. Tender, marinated pork, covered with fragrant, tasty herbs and crisp veggies, all wrapped in sweet, tender butter lettuce, and dipped in sweet, spicy, umami-flavored sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about it! Too bad there were no leftovers!
We always look for recipes to which we will return again and again. This one is one of those. It is actually a combination of 2 separate recipes found on Epicurious.com.
This marinated pork strikes the perfect flavor balance. It is sweet, a bit spicy, a bit tart, and full of that wonderful (albeit a bit stinky) fish sauce. Now I know a lot of people don’t like fish sauce. Some even substitute soy sauce or Worcestershire for it, but take my word for it, you need the fish sauce. It makes this dish sing!
So just what is fish sauce? It is really just fish (anchovies), salt, and water, fermented into a flavorful sauce. Now, I’ve found many a person who says they dislike (ok, hate) anchovies. Most of these people don’t know they often eat anchovies at Asian restaurants (mostly Thai and Vietnamese), but also in many pasta dishes and the beloved Caesar salad, where the dressing is made with anchovies. So please, I beg, don’t fear the fish sauce, it truly will elevate your dishes to a whole new level of deliciousness.
If you want to learn more about fish sauce and see the results of a fish sauce tasting, check out Our Daily Brine. They provide a nice comparison of different sauces, and you can see what a few extra cents at the grocery will get you in terms of flavor.
The best part of this dish is the ease of preparation. The list of ingredients is long, but the prep time is relatively short and is very easy. Nothing fancy here, but it all comes together in a dish neither you nor your guests will soon forget! I promise!
Marinated Pork with Vietnamese Table Salad
For the marinade:
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c + 1 T fish sauce
1 hammered and finely chopped stalk lemongrass
1 1/2 T chopped garlic
2 T minced shallots
1 Thai chile, finely chopped
1/4 t black pepper
2 or 3 12-oz bone-in pork chops, 1″ thick
For the table salad:
1/2 English cucumber, seeded, finely sliced
1-2 heads butter lettuce
4 oz. dried rice vermicelli noodles, prepared per package directions
1 carrot, shredded
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves only
1 small bunch Thai basil
1 mango, cubed
For the dipping sauce:
3/4 c hot H2O
5 T fish sauce
3 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 T lime juice
2 Thai chiles, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Mix together all marinade ingredients. Pour into re-sealable plastic bag with pork chops. Refrigerate overnight or leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
Gather and prepare the salad ingredients. Display on large board or individually in small bowls.
Prepare the dipping sauce. Mix together all sauce ingredients. Add salt to taste. Divide into small ramekins or bowls, 1 for each guest. The sauce is very thin, but very tasty.
Heat grill to medium-high for pork chops. For 1″ chops, cook 5 minutes per side. Cover with foil, then let rest 10 minutes. Slice in thin strips. Serve with table salad, with each person piling on all of the veggies and herbs that they want, and dipping in their very own dipping sauce.