Vietnamese Pork Skewers

Last week I shared a simple recipe for naked fried chicken. Today I'll share a deceptively simple Vietnamese recipe courtesy of my aunt and uncle from Austin. What makes it deceptively simple is the marinade. A casual eater would have no idea of the amount of time that goes into the ingredients: mincing hay-like lemongrass, toasting and grinding sesame seeds, thinly and uniformly slicing a slab of pork, and making a dark caramel sauce. For those with the dedication and free time, this recipe is worth all the effort.

The recipe, after the jump.

Vietnamese Pork Skewers

  • 2 tablespoons minced lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, lightly toasted, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of caramel sauce or 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2/3 pound pork shoulder, untrimmed, cut across the grain into thin slices (about 2" wide by 4" long and 1/8" thick)
  • 12 (8-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes

Combine the lemongrass, sesame seeds, fish sauce, caramel sauce, shallots, garlic and oil in a bowl and stir well to blend. Add the pork and let it marinate for at least 20 minutes. Thread the meat onto the skewers and set aside.

Preheat a grill with hardwood charcoal. Oil the grill, then grill the pork slices until the meat is done and the edges are nicely charred, about three to four minutes. To make life easier, we used one of those fish grill baskets which let us flip six skewers at a time rather than burning our fingertips turning each skewer individually.

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