Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vietnamese Pan Seared Lemongrass Pork

I bought a lot of Lemongrass at Uwajimaya the other day so I had to use it up before it got too dry so I decided to make my usual Vietnamese Caramelized Pork recipe (since I didn't have any chicken in the freezer) and add Lemongrass to it. It was wonderful and I will use the Lemongrass in it from now on. For those of you who haven't tried Caramelized Pork, it is what is grilled and served on top of Bunh, or a Vietnamese noodle salad with Nuoc Cham as the salad dressing. It is often served as whole pork chops, but I personally like the pork or chicken cut into slices and I serve it with lots of white rice and some stir fried vegetables. It's quite easy to make and since I don't have a barbecue, I cooked it in a very hot pan to get those slightly burnt edges that add so much to the flavor. It's got a lovely combination of savory flavor with sweetness that I think you will really like.

Pan Seared Lemon Grass Pork (or Chicken)

1 pound thick cut boneless pork chops, cut into ¼ inch slices (or boneless chicken thighs sliced)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minced fine
½ small shallot, minced fine
1 stalk lemon grass, rough outer grass removed and upper part of stem removed, minced finely – it will equal about ¼ cup
1 teaspoon Sweet Soy Sauce – Kecap Manis
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Oil
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

Put sugar, garlic, shallot and lemon grass in a mortar and using a pestle, process to nearly a paste, but where there are still some chunks. Add Kecap Manis, Fish Sauce and pepper and stir to combine. Place meat in a large bowl and add marinade. Coat well and let sit at room temperature for at least ½ hour to 1 hour or in refrigerator up to overnight.

Heat oil in frying pan until smoking. Add in pork in with marinade and straighten pieces out until they lay flat. Cook until completely browned on one side, moving them occasionally so they don’t’ burn. You will see the meat turning white up over the sides when they are. Then turn the pieces over and brown on the other side. Put onto a plate and serve with rice and vegetables.

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and the Kecap Manis and fish sauce bring in even more. The Lemongrass belongs to the Wood Element, but this element needs support, so it is important to serve this dish with some green vegetables. The sugar contributes just a bit of the Earth Element, but you need a bit more of that too. But, the garlic, shallots and rice contribute enough of the Metal Element. The Fire Element is missing except for a tiny amount of black pepper and the char on the meat, so be sure to bring that element into the meal with something that contains hot chilies or you could have a salad as an accompaniment and an Earthy fruit for dessert to round out and balance the meal.

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