Do you like your pork firm or tender?
My mom likes it firm and that's the only way I had ever eaten pork growing up. Then about a decade ago, my friend DP stayed with me when she moved out to California. For that week, I'd come home from work with the yummiest homecooked meals. The only dish I can remember her making were these braised pork chops that were so incredibly tender that I became an instant convert.
So when lil' sis recently requested pork chops, I said I'd make some with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chilies. But instead of grilling them, which is the more popular method, I braised them for almost an hour, until the pork chops were as tender as the memory of my friend's dish.
That's the funny thing about food memories. While many of my food preferences are based upon my mom's cooking, I have very distinctly different tastes from her. I like more tartness, more garlic, more tenderness in my meats. Another friend cooked pork chops by salting and boiling them for several hours until they fell part. That didn't sound very appetizing to me at all. But that was how my friend's mom always made pork chops, so that's how she made them.
This recipe is pretty similar to my recipe for Ga Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Lemongrass) except I like to substitute honey for sugar when braising. I think it adds deeper flavor notes since it's simmered with fish sauce for so long. Braising also eliminates the need to marinate the meat since the flavors will be concentrated as it cooks.
Suon Kho Xa Gung Toi Ot (Vietnamese Braised Pork Chops with Lemongrass, Ginger, Garlic, and Chilies)
For about 4 1/2-inch thick pork chops, you'll need:
2 stalks lemongrass, finely minced
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-inch knob ginger, finely minced
1 chili pepper, finely minced
1 tblsp honey
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1 tblsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups water
Small chop 2 stalks of lemongrass, 6 cloves of garlic, a 1-inch knob of ginger, and 1 chili pepper.
Then finely mince everything in a food processor until a rough paste is formed.
Add 1 tblsp honey, 1 tblsp fish sauce, 1 tblsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Then slather the marinade all over the pork chops.
In a large sauce pan on high heat, drizzle a bit of oil and quickly sear the pork chops. Add 2 cups of water, cover the pan, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Every 15 minutes or so, check and make sure nothing's burning, flip the pork chops, and make taste adjustments or add water if necessary. This watery marinade will gradually thicken into a rich sauce.
Ideally, I'd use much nicer cuts of pork, but this ugly cut was $3.77 for the whole pan's worth. With gas prices these days, every little bit of savings counts. Poke the pork chops with a chopstick and see if it's as tender as you'd like it.
Serve with rice. Spoon the sauce over the rice if you wish.
Now, let's look at the old photo. Egads! Reflective overhead florescent lighting, blurry rice fading into the plate, just poorly photographed all around.
Who made my recipe for Vietnamese lemongrass pork chops?
Ning of Heart and Hearth said, "The result is truly a soft, melt-in-the mouth, falling off the bones pork chops."
My other braised pork recipes:
Buta No Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork)
Thit Heo Kho Voi Dau Hu (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Tofu)
Thit Heo Kho Voi Trung Hoac Gai Chua (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs or Pickled Mustard Greens)
Xiu Mai (Vietnamese Meatballs)
1 year ago today, an individual batch of Cherry Cinnamon Jam.