Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops 4.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Feb 18, 2019

Vietnamese cooks love thin pork chops because the chops pick up seasonings quickly, cook fast and taste great — perfect for a weeknight meal. Sold at many supermarkets, the skinny chops have either a curved rib bone or T-shaped bone. An edge of fat and marbling signal good flavor. You can marinate the pork many ways, but lemongrass is a signature Viet flavor.

The chops can be also be done on the grill over medium-high heat (5 to 7 minutes, then the same resting period).

To make the marinade without a mini food processor, see the VARIATION, below.

Serve these chops with rice and grilled vegetables, such as zucchini; season the veggies with leftover marinade, salt, pepper and oil, and then add to the stove-top pan or grill. The pork is also great sliced up for banh mi, rice paper rolls and rice noodle salad bowls.

Make Ahead: The pork chops need to marinate for at least 30 minutes (at room temperature), or up to 1 day, refrigerated.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped shallot, or 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh lemongrass (from 2 medium stalks; tough outer layer discarded)
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons canola or other neutrally flavored oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses or dark amber honey
  • 4 thin-cut, bone-in pork chops (6 ounces each), about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup nuoc cham dipping sauce (optional; see NOTE)


Combine the garlic, shallot or onion, lemongrass, brown sugar and pepper in a mini food processor; process to a fine texture. Add the canola oil, fish sauce, soy sauce and molasses or honey; process until relatively smooth, to form a wet paste. This is your marinade; transfer to a mixing bowl.

Use paper towels to blot excess moisture from the pork. Add the pork to the marinade, turning to coat well, then cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Or, refrigerate for up to 24 hours; let the meat sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.

Heat a cast-iron stove-top grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove the chops, discarding any leftover marinade. Do not wipe off the meat.

Add the pork chops to the pan; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, turning frequently, until firm and cooked through. To check doneness, pierce with the tip of a sharp knife; it’s okay if the center is faintly pink. Transfer them to a plate to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve the chops warm, passing the dipping sauce at the table, if desired.

VARIATION: To make the marinade without a food processor, mince the garlic and shallot, transfer to a large bowl, then mix with 3 tablespoons grated or minced lemongrass (or store-bought lemongrass paste) and the remaining ingredients.

NOTE: To make the dipping sauce, combine 1 tablespoon sugar (or 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup), 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice and 1/4 cup warm water in a medium bowl. Taste, and, as needed, add 3/4 teaspoon sugar (or 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup) and/or 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice; dilute with water if you go too far. If there’s an unpleasant tart-bitter edge, add 2 teaspoons of plain rice vinegar to fix the flavor. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce, aiming for a bold, forward finish that’s a little gutsy. If you want heat, add 1 thinly sliced Thai or serrano chile, or 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chile garlic sauce or sambal oelek; for pungency, add 1 small minced garlic clove. The yield is 1/2 to 2/3 cup.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Vietnamese Food Any Day,” by Andrea Nguyen (Ten Speed Press, 2019).

Tested by Andy Sikkenga.

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