Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops

published Jul 25, 2023
Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops Recipe

Lemongrass-marinated pork chops get grilled until deeply caramelized. Best served with all the good stuff: broken jasmine rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, lime, fish sauce, and scallion oil.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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Vietnamese grilled lemongrass pork chops plated with rice and salad.
Credit: Maria Do

Vietnamese grilled lemongrass pork chops (or Com Sườn Nướng) hit all the notes of a crave-worthy comfort dish. Here, the pork chops are marinated in a flavorful mix of 

lemongrass

In this recipe, the accompaniments are what make this dish so uniquely Vietnamese — broken jasmine rice, thick-cut cucumbers and tomatoes, lettuce, lime, nuoc cham (a dipping sauce), scallion oil, and sometimes a fried egg. The veggies are commonly eaten with a fork and knife. As you cut into the pork chop, slice some cucumber and tomato and dip it all together into the nuoc cham. The rice will catch the extra sauce! 

What Is Broken Rice? 

Broken rice is rice that has been fragmented during the milling process to create smaller grains. It’s common in many Southeast Asian dishes that are served with meats because it has a better mouthfeel than a longer-grain white rice like jasmine. Besides the difference in texture, broken rice does not differ in taste or cooking method from regular white rice. 


In this dish, the broken rice may seem a little extra, but for folks like me who have loved this since their childhood, the texture alone is worth the grocery shopping for a big hit of nostalgia. Otherwise, you can use regular jasmine rice, which will deliver the exact same taste!

Credit: Maria Do

If You’re Making Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops, a Few Tips

  • Buy bone-in pork chops. It will be worth it to find bone-in thinly cut pork chops from your grocery store or butcher, as they will marinate, grill, and taste better than boneless. I found the pre-packaged cuts at H-Mart, but they are harder to find at larger grocery stores. For shopping at large grocers, I suggest going to one that will slice bone-in chops to your preference (1/2-inch thick for this recipe). 
  • Use fresh lemongrass. You can find fresh lemongrass at an Asian grocer, or opt for dried lemongrass from the spice section of larger grocers or lemongrass paste. For fresh lemongrass, only the few bottom inches are usable (the whiter end that feels softer), so pick away the tough outer leaves and tops before chopping. 
  • Opt for broken rice. Broken rice can be found easily at an Asian grocer or online. You can also use regular jasmine rice instead. 
  • Go for medium-well or well-done when grilling your pork chops. Depending on your grill, the pork chops take around 15 minutes to reach medium-well to well-done, which is common. These pork chops are not usually cooked to medium-rare or medium, as they are so thin. The flavor comes from the marinade and extra fat from bone-in chops. 

Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops Recipe

Lemongrass-marinated pork chops get grilled until deeply caramelized. Best served with all the good stuff: broken jasmine rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, lime, fish sauce, and scallion oil.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the pork chops:

  • 1/2 cup

    neutral oil, such as vegetable or avocado, plus more for the grill or pan

  • 3 tablespoons

    granulated sugar, plus more as needed

  • 3 tablespoons

    fish sauce, plus more as needed

  • 1 stalk

    fresh lemongrass, or 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste

  • 1/2

    medium shallot

  • 6 cloves

    garlic

  • 2 pounds

    (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) bone-in pork chops (4 to 6)

For serving:

  • Nuoc Cham (see recipe below)

  • 1

    medium cucumber

  • 1

    small tomato

  • 1

    medium lime

  • 3

    medium scallions

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil

  • Green leaf lettuce leaves

  • Cooked jasmine white rice, preferably broken short grain

Instructions

  1. Place 1/2 cup neutral oil, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons fish sauce in a medium bowl (if marinating in a zip-top bag) or large bowl (if marinating in the bowl). Whisk until the sugar is mostly dissolved.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl as you complete it: Trim off the tough leaves from 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, then finely chop the bulb (about 1/3 cup); alternatively, measure out 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste. Finely chop 1/2 medium shallot (about 1/4 cup) and 6 garlic cloves (about 4 teaspoons). Stir to combine.

  3. Taste if the marinade is evenly balanced between sweet and salty and add up to 1 tablespoon more granulated sugar and fish sauce as needed. If marinating in a zip-top bag, transfer the marinade into the bag.

  4. Pat 2 pounds bone-in pork chops dry with paper towels. Add to the marinade and mix to evenly coat. Cover or seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight. (This is a good time to prepare the nuoc cham.)

  5. Remove the pork chops from the marinade and wipe off the aromatics with paper towels.

  6. Option 1: Outdoor grilling. Heat an outdoor grill for direct, medium-high heat. Scrape the grill grates clean if needed, and oil the grates with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.

    Place the pork chops on the grill. Cover and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip the pork chops. Cover and continue to grill, flipping every few minutes, until browned all over and the internal temperature registers at least 155ºF, 8 to 11 minutes more.

  7. Option 2: Stovetop. Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons neutral oil onto the pan. Add the pork chops and cook until golden-brown and charred in spots on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until browned on the other side and the internal temperature registers at least 155º F, 3 to 4 minutes more.

  8. Transfer the pork to a clean plate. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the nuoc cham and the toppings.

  9. Peel 1 medium cucumber and slice crosswise into 1/3-inch thick rounds. Cut 1 small tomato into 1/3-inch rounds; halve them as needed to be about the same size as the cucumber slices. Cut 1 medium lime into 6 wedges. Finely chop 3 medium scallions (about 1/3 cup), place in a small bowl, and add 1/4 cup olive oil.

  10. Serve the pork chops over warm rice with the cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, and lime. Spoon the scallion oil on top of the pork chops.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The pork chops can be marinated overnight.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Nuoc Cham: Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce Recipe

For extra irresistible flavor, serve this 5-minute sauce with chả giò.

Prep time 5 minutes

Makes 1 cup

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup

    warm water, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar, plus more as needed

  • 3 tablespoons

    fish sauce, plus more as needed

  • 1

    Thai birds-eye chile, plus more as needed

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 2

    medium limes

Instructions

  1. Place 1/2 cup warm water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small glass or ceramic bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 3 tablespoons fish sauce and stir to combine.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl as you complete it: Trim and finely chop 1 Thai birds-eye chile, mince 2 garlic cloves, and squeeze the juice from 2 medium limes until you have 2 tablespoons juice. Stir to combine. Let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to meld.

  3. Taste and season with more finely chopped chile, water, fish sauce, sugar, or lime juice as needed.