Fish Sauce. No wait…don’t run away. I will admit that fish sauce is a little scary, at first. However it is the star ingredient in this dish and when combined with the many other powerful flavors it just gets happy. I found this wonderful Vietnamese Pork Tenderloin recipe in my July Cooking Light magazine. It’s well worth the 30 minutes or so of prep and all 25 ingredients.
We used a 1 lb. pork tenderloin and cut it into 12 strips. I got a little ahead of myself and didn’t realize the recipe called for it to be sliced crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices, it turned out fine but thinner probably would have been better. For the marinade combine the following six ingredients in a small food processor and rough chop: 2 Tbl. sugar, 1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper, 2 garlic cloves, 1 shallot, halved, 1 – 4″ piece of lemongrass (I used the tube variety by Gourmet Garden and gave it about a 2″ squeeze), 1 – 1″ piece of peeled ginger. Then with processor running add: 1 Tbl. soy, 1 Tbl. fish sauce, and 1 Tbl. canola. Pour mixture into a zip lock bag and add pork pieces. Marinate in fridge for minimum 1 hour, turning occasionally.
For the pickled carrots, the recipe called for 1/3 cup grated carrot. I would definitely add more carrot next time – they were amazing. I can’t wait to try this same pickle marinade on other veggies. Combine carrot with 2 Tbl. sugar in medium bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Then add 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1 Thai or serrano chile thinly sliced and stir until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate.
In addition to the carrots we served the pork with rice vermicelli noodles (cooked according to package), cauliflower rice (fine chop cauliflower in food processor then microwave with a little water until tender, about 5 minutes), sliced radishes, fine diced cucumber & red onion, fresh basil, mint, and cilantro leaves, and bibb lettuce cups.
Preheat grill to high heat. Remove pork from marinade and weave onto bamboo skewers (previously soaked in water for 30 minutes). Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 2 minutes on each side until nicely charred. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over pork and serve on a lettuce cup topped with a little of everything.
You will not believe these incredible flavors. We kept going back and forth on which item was the star ingredient….the fresh mint and basil were fantastic, the carrots with the serrano pepper had just the right amount of heat to balance the vinegar, the pork was moist and bursting with the flavors of ginger and fish sauce…..in the best way imaginable. First attempt at Vietnamese and we will be back!
- 1 lb. pork tenderloin and cut crosswise into ¼" thick slices
- 2 Tbl. sugar
- 1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 shallot, halved
- 1 - 4" piece of lemongrass (I used the tube variety by Gourmet Garden and gave it about a 2" squeeze)
- 1 - 1" piece of peeled ginger
- 1 Tbl. soy
- 1 Tbl. fish sauce
- 1 Tbl. canola
- ⅓ cup grated carrot
- 2 Tbl. sugar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 Thai or serrano chile, thinly sliced
- Bibb lettuce cups
- Rice vermicelli noodles (cooked according to package)
- Chopped peanuts
- Sliced radishes
- Fine diced cucumber & red onion
- Fresh basil, mint, and cilantro leaves
- Slice pork tenderloin crosswise into ¼" thick slices
- Combine the following six ingredients in a small food processor and rough chop: sugar, fresh cracked pepper, garlic cloves, shallot, lemongrass, and ginger.
- Then with processor running add: soy, fish sauce, and canola.
- Pour mixture into a zip lock bag and add pork pieces.
- Marinate in fridge for minimum 1 hour, turning occasionally.
- Combine carrot with sugar in medium bowl and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Then add fresh lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, minced garlic, Thai or serrano chile and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Preheat grill to high heat.
- Remove pork from marinade and weave onto bamboo skewers (previously soaked in water for 30 minutes).
- Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray.
- Grill 2 minutes on each side until nicely charred.
- Sprinkle chopped peanuts over pork.
- Serve on a lettuce cup with rice noodles and a little of each topping.
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