Vietnamese Pork Chops
Adapted from Bon Appetit

I kept the ingredients same, mostly, but expanded a bit in the cooking instructions – providing a little more color where I felt it was warranted. I only took out vegetable oil in favor of grapeseed oil because I prefer to cook with it. Also, I wanted to use my palm sugar (which I get on Amazon) in place of brown sugar. Both work, but light brown sugar might be more easily available to most folks. These cook very fast, making them an ideal weekday dinner option. I recommend having either sides prepared beforehand, or have something that comes together while the chops rest. Having said all this, there’s no reason not to serve them at your next, fancier dinner party – they cook up to be so much more than the humble sum of their parts.

1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup (packed) palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
1/4 cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork chops (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
Kosher salt
Dry white wine, optional
Lime halves (for serving)

1. Whisk shallot, sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, and pepper in a shallow dish. Using a fork, pierce pork chops all over (to allow marinade to penetrate faster) and add to marinade in dish. Turn to coat. Cover and let pork chops marinate at room temperature, turning occasionally, 20 minutes. [You can also marinate the chops in a plastic bag, 1 day ahead, refrigerated. Turn the bag occasionally.]

2. Remove pork chops from marinade, scraping off excess (reserve marinade for sauce). Scraping off is important – you actually want as much of the sauce off the meat as possible, because when you cook the chop, the sauce burns to a black crisp.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly season pork chops with salt. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Let pork chops rest 10 minutes before serving. Should the residual marinade start to burn, lower the heat tiny bit and add a small splash of dry white wine (I had Gruner Veltliner in the fridge from the night before).

4. Meanwhile, over medium heat, bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 4 minutes. Watch the marinade, it will bubble and foam and could become too thick in an instant. If you’re in doubt, remove the pot from heat, let the bubbles subside and check to see if if the sauce is of syrupy consistency.

Serve pork chops with reduced marinade and lime halves.

© 2024 Olga Massov