The traditional way of making thit nuong is to cut the meat into 2-3 inch strips, then marinade the meat and grill it in between two wire baskets over a charcoal grill. The marinade consists of caramelized sugar syrup (nuoc mau, click for recipe) and fish sauce, two cooking essentials in the Vietnamese kitchen.
The fish sauce is very salty (and a bit smelly), but it has a lot of flavor. I often add a few dashes to my chicken, pork, and shrimp instead of salt and a little bit of sugar to get the protein crispy.
There are a bunch of traditional Vietnamese dishes where thit nuong is included, but here are a few of my favorites:
• Rice with grilled meat (‘com thit nuong’ as seen on the top picture)
• The Vietnamese sandwich (banh mi thit nuong)
• Angel hair rice noodles with grilled pork, served with lettuce for wrapping (banh hoi thit heo nuong)
As a city-dweller I am not privileged to have a garden with an outdoor grill, so unfortunately I have to make this in my oven. For this I use pork chops, which are on the more fatty side. If you do have a charcoal grill, you can make it the traditional way and use pork butt or shoulder instead.
- • 2 lbs. (900 grams) pork chops (or 1 ½ lbs. (680 grams) pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced to about ¼ inch thick)
- • ¼ cup (60 ml) lemongrass, minced
- • ¼ cup (60 ml) sugar
- • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
- • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
- • 3 small shallots, minced
- • 1 tablespoon nuoc mau (caramel syrup)
- 1. Prepare the marinade with the above ingredients and coat the meat to marinade for at least 1-2 hours or for more enhanced taste the day before.
- 2. For oven: Set the oven to broil or grill and place the meat on a grilling rack right under the heating element. Broil/grill a few minutes on each side.
- For charcoal grill: lay out the meat in between two wire baskets and grill for a few minutes on each side.
- Nuoc mau is easy to make and last forever, you can find the recipe under another post.