grilled lemongrass pork

We served this with a Cambodian rice noodle salad.


for the pork:

  • 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of surface fat
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 medium shallots, quartered
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed to lower 5 or 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, thinly sliced *
  • 1 serrano chili, stemmed and roughly chopped **
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP fish sauce
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • pickled carrots and daikon, for serving
  • lettuce leaves, for serving

for the dipping sauce (nuoc cham):

  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 3 1/2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 serrano chilies, stemmed and minced **

* Couldn’t find lemon grass stalks in any of our regular grocery outlets (and not about to add another trip right now) so we used lemongrass paste. did the job fine.

** Didn’t have chilies on hand and wanted the kids to eat it, so we substituted with a small pinch of cayenne



  1. Place the pork on a large plate and freeze until the meat is firm and partially frozen, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the garlic, shallots, lemon grass, chili, five-spice and 1 1/2 teaspoons each salt and pepper.Process until finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and honey, then process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Using a chef’s knife, slice the partially frozen pork against the grain into pieces about 1/8 inch thick. The slices will be irregularly shaped; cut them into strips about 1 inch wide (it’s fine if the strips are not uniform). Add to the seasoning paste and toss, rubbing the paste into the meat.
  3. Thread the pork onto 10- to 12-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and scrunching it together, packing it quite tightly. If some pieces are too wide, too wispy or awkwardly shaped, fold the meat or tuck in the edges as you skewer. Place on a rimmed dish, cover and refrigerate while you prepare the grill.
  4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 minutes, then clean and oil the grate. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high and heat, covered, for 15 minutes, then clean and oil the grate.
  5. Place the skewers (on the hot side of the grill if using charcoal) and cook until lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the second sides are lightly charred, about another 3 minutes. Flip the skewers again and continue to cook, turning every couple of minutes, until well charred on both sides, about another 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to platter and drizzle with about 1/4 cup of the nuoc cham. Serve with the pickles and lettuce leaves for wrapping and with the remaining nuoc cham for spooning on or dipping.

nuoc cham: In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and 6 tablespoons water. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then stir in the garlic and chilies. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

NOTE: Don’t be afraid to pack pork tightly onto metal skewers. This prevents overcooking. If using gas grill, make sure to allow it to heat covered for about 15 minutes before cleaning and placing skewers on grate. This helps ensure the grill is hot enough to char the pork nicely.

nutritional information

yield: 4 servings
time: 50 minutes (not counting freezer time)
source: Milk Street, July-August 2020, pp.9-10

One response to “grilled lemongrass pork

  1. Pingback: cambodian-style rice noodle salad with shrimp, cucumber and herbs | la cocina feliz

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