Cooking / Savoury

Fresh Bread cooks: Pork with Lemongrass and Chilli

I was obsessed with lemongrass and chilli in Vietnam, so much so that Mr B got tired of me ordering variations of the same dish just about every time we ate out. The best thing about lemongrass and chilli is the flavours are so punchy that the recipe can be quite simple!

Since I’ve got back, I’ve cooked this dish a number of times, a couple using pork and once using chicken. Oddly enough I haven’t been using the cookbook that I got from doing a fantastic cooking class in Hoi An, but simply googling Luke Nguyen’s recipe from the SBS website, which can be found here – but it doesn’t include all the ingredients he uses in the accompanying video (an excellent blog post by Bubbles n Squeaks on the same recipe is here).

Anyway, you use what’s in your cupboard and adapt the recipe to what suits, so here’s my version.

Interesting side note: I learnt while in Vietnam that your fish sauce has oxidised and the flavours have gone off if you can’t see your fingers through the bottle when you hold it up to the light. Well… I need to buy a new bottle of fish sauce. But this turned out all right regardless.

Fish sauce, lime, sugar - necessary for Vietnamese cuisine

Oxidised fish sauce with a couple of other necessary accompaniments - lime and sugar

Oxidised fish sauce versus new fish sauce

Edited to add: here's the new fish sauce I bought. Check out the difference in colour!

Pork with lemongrass and chilli (adapted from Luke Nguyen’s recipe)
Serves 2 

Ingredients: 300g meat of your choice, chopped into bite size bits (I used free range pork fillet because it was reduced for quick sale at Woolworths. Pigs who get to run around taste happier, right?)
1 stalk lemongrass, the white end, finely chopped
2 big red chillies (the big ones aren’t the super hot ones), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp oil (for stir frying)
1/2 cup coconut juice (I didn’t have coconut juice OR milk on hand this time so I dunked half a cup of dessicated coconut in some hot water for a while while I chopped everything else, then strained out the lumpy coconut and used that. Authentic? Probably not. But it did the trick. Actually I’ve since found out that it’s totally legit to make coconut milk this way.)
1 spring onion
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve 

Creating coconut juice

Creating coconut "juice" - dessicated coconut soaking in hot water

Start by chopping up all your lemongrass and chilli and garlic. And the pork.

Combine the fish sauce and sugar and half the lime juice (that’s my addition to the marinade, I think it helps tenderise the meat and add a bit more tang to the dish)  in a bowl until the sugar dissolves.

Add the pork to the fish sauce mixture and half of the chopped up chilli, garlic, lemongrass. Cover and marinate the pork in the fridge for as long as you can. 1-2 hours or overnight is ideal, this time Mr B & I were hungry so it only got half an hour.

Heat the oil in the wok and add the reserved chilli, lemongrass and garlic mixture. Cook until it’s browned and then dump in the pork with all its saucy bits. Stir fry until browned.

Pork, lemongrass and chilli in a dirty wok

Pork, lemongrass and chilli in a dirty wok

Then add the spring onion and coconut juice, reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. You’re supposed to cover with a lid, but I don’t have a lid for my wok, so… *shrug*. Plus you might end up with too runny a mixture – last time I cooked this I added a smidgen of cornflour at the end to thicken it up a bit, worked a treat.

Serve on rice with vegetables of your choice! Voila! I threw in some broccoli this time – authentic, no, nutritious and delicious? Yes. 

Pork with lemongrass and chilli (and broccoli)

Pork with lemongrass and chilli (and broccoli and rice) - the finished meal

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