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 grounding 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.
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 3 to 4 minutes. To make life easier, we used one of those fish grill baskets which let us flip 6 skewers at a time rather than burning our finger tips turn each skewer individually.