Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vietnamese Curry Grilled Pork Chops...

Wondering what to do with a package of pork chops I bought on sale, I happily discovered it was Vietnamese-style when I found all the ingredients on-hand in my fridge-- leftover mint sprigs, a close-to-expiry tomato, green onions on its last limp legs, a cucumber, lettuce, and drum roll please... a jar of Vietnamese curry paste I prepared a month ago :). Always handy to have around, this particular curry profile is exceptional and forms the base of many Vietnamese curry dishes often as a meat marinade- so full of exotic flavour and aromatics with galangal, lemongrass, cilantro, cumin, turmeric and garlic. I've used it to make chicken wings and a similar recipe to my mother-in-law's curry chicken with potatoes in soup. Grilled pork chops to serve along with fresh vegetables and herbs on vermicelli noodles (bun- pronounced with a long "u") and rice (cơm) eaten with seasoned fish sauce are popular dishes served at this Southeast Asian cuisine restaurants everywhere. There's more to Vietnamese food than their famous beef noodle soup.

Curry paste is easy to make when you have a handy dandy food processor to whiz everything!

Vietnamese Curry Grilled Pork Chops
Makes 6 pork chops

6 pork chops, centre or loin cuts
5 Tbsp. prepared Vietnamese curry paste
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. fried onion or shallots
lettuce, cut into bite size shreds
tomato, sliced
cucumber, sliced and cut into sticks
red onion, thinly sliced into slivers
steam rice or cooked vermicelli to serve

Nước mắm cham (seasoned dipping fish sauce): Makes 3/4 cup
i) Dissolve 1/4 cup granulated sugar in 1/3 cup boiling water;
ii) Mix in 2 Tbsp. fish sauce and 2-3 Tbsp. white vinegar and leave to cool;
iii) To season, add 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped and Vietnamese chili sauce to taste. Refrigerate until serve.

Marinate the pork chops in a mixture with curry paste, fish sauce and sugar. Refrigerate for an hour to three hours for the flavours to meld.  

Grill both sides on medium-high heat for about five minutes or until pork is thoroughly cooked. TIP: Give a snip or slice into fat or tendon areas around the pork so that the meat grills flat and even. Set onto a platter to rest and redistribute its juices. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a skillet/pan; add onions and fried shallots; cook until aromatic and sizzling. Remove into a bowl (this will be a nice condiment for the grilled pork chops).

Pickled leek is a favourite side at Vietnamese meals. Look for it in the pickle or condiment aisle in an Asian supermarket.

Place all the prepared vegetables and herbs and condiments at the table for everyone to help themselves. You can also offer bean sprouts, Asian chives, Thai basil and cilantro. Slice up the pork against the grain and arrange along with rice or noodles and everything else for your own customized "com" or "bun" serving. 

Here's my bowl with all the fixings! A shallow dish is perfect for presentation and allowing room to mix it all up!

My boys really love the fresh flavours-- one on noodles, the other on rice... great either way!

There are some labour involved in making the curry paste-- with the amount of ingredients, cooking then pulsing. But make a jar with the recipe and you're set for three to four Vietnamese-inspired curry dishes! Just a thin oil on top of the paste, refrigerate in a sealed air-tight container and it's good for two months. Awesome to pull out at your whim, like I did for some nummy curry goodness!

Try also my curry chicken with potatoes in soup and chicken wings

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