Vietnamese lemongrass pork

I made this pork about 6 weeks ago, and it came out OK, but not the way I expected or wanted it to be. It was very dark in color, sweeter than I’d like, and nothing like the delectable grilled pork I’d had in Vietnamese restaurants.

So this time I winged it, aiming for the flavors I crave. It came out much much better. And I am gratified to report that even though I did this to bone-in pork chops well over an inch thick, since that’s what I had and there was no time to butcher them into thin slices, the flavor penetrated well and the result was noms.

I used:
2 big-ass bone in pork chops, well marbled with fat

and stabbed them a bunch of times all over with my knife so the marinade could enter. Then I let them sit for several hours in:

minced lemongrass – I used the thick, tender 2-3″ of one stalk
several tbs fish sauce – I like this to be the dominant flavor
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
a squirt of agave syrup
1-2 tbs thin soy sauce (the regular stuff, not thick soy sauce which has molasses)
a drizzle of toasted sesame oil

Fire up the oven to 350F and start a cast iron pan on high but not full blast. Scrape the lemongrass bits off the chops. If you don’t have fatty meat, put a little oil in the pan. When the pan’s hot, sear the chops on both sides but be careful not to let it burn too much (the sugar will tend to char), then stick the pan into the oven for 10-25 minutes. Duration depends on how cooked they got in the sear, how thick they are, etc, so just poke them and if they are firm, they are done.

Pull them out, rest them for 10 minutes, then eat them up yum with rice and pickled veg, or make bun, or whatever you like to do with delicious fish-saucy lemongrassy pork.

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