Jun 2011

Thịt Nướng – Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

The Astronomer doesn’t care too much for receiving “stuff” on his birthdays, so I gifted him homemade thịt nướng with all the fixings in celebration of his 27th last weekend. Vietnamese grilled pork has been on my lengthy list of things to master for quite some time, so this was the perfect occasion to finally learn how to prepare one of our all-time favorite dishes from scratch.

I employed my aunt Phuong’s recipe for the all-important marinade. Made from an aromatic mix of shallots, garlic, lemongrass, honey, fish sauce, and sesame oil, the marinade mingled with the meat overnight to ensure that every bit of pork was permeated. To pair with the protein, I prepped some scallion oil, pickled carrots and daikon, toasted crushed peanuts, and a jar-full of nước chấm (Vietnamese dipping sauce). Crispy fried shallots were purchased at the local Asian grocery store.

After allowing the meat to marry with the marinade, I fired up the grill, loaded up the “meat cage,” and cooked everything up in several batches. With four pounds of pork to plow through, The Astronomer and I were each treated to half a dozen bowls of bún (vermicelli rice noodles), as well as several loaves of bánh mì for the better part of a week. Thịt nướng is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

  • 4 pounds pork butt or top sirloin, thinly sliced approximately 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 shallots, finely minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup lemongrass, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Combine all ingredients from shallots through vegetable oil in a large bowl. Add the sliced pork to the bowl. Using your hands, massage the meat and marinade to make sure that the marinade is evenly distributed and coats every slice of meat. Allow the meat to soak in the marinade overnight or for up to 24 hours.

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Traditionally, thịt nướng is cooked on a grill employing a “meat cage.” These devices can be purchased in the housewares section of any well-stocked Chinese or Vietnamese supermarket. If one cannot be located, the pork can be skewered onto bamboo sticks that have been soaked in water for 20 minutes.

If using a meat cage, coat evenly with non-stick spray and layer the pork only one slice deep to ensure even cooking.

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Grill the meat on low to medium heat with the lid closed for most of the time in order to keep the meat moist. Flip the meat cage once the pork has developed a sear and is evenly caramelized on one side.

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Once the pork is cooked through, transfer the meat onto a serving platter.

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Serve thịt nướng atop rice noodles, steamed jasmine rice, or inside a baguette along with all the fixings—fresh mint, shredded lettuce, sliced cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon, toasted peanuts, scallion oil, fried shallots, and nước chấm.

Serves 2 people for one week or 6 to 8 people in one sitting.

[For Printable Recipe Click Here]

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70 thoughts on “Thịt Nướng – Vietnamese Grilled Pork

  1. gorgeous, cc! love your meat cage. (Always wanted to say that to the women on Saigon street corners grilling meat in their cages in an all-day-long squatting position. Impressive on many levels.)

  2. Food porn du jour! Love it! I just had some nem nuong and thit nuong for lunch today, too! 🙂

  3. WHOA 4lbs of goodness. That will keep you going for sure! I use the bamboo skewer method normally but I should really invest in a Meat Cage.

  4. Cathy – that looks delicious!! I need to start making more Vietnamese food and I think I’ll start with this one! Thank you for sharing and looks like I now need to find me a meat cage! 🙂

  5. With the way my brothers eat and the random friends that drop by, I’d have to triple this recipe to feed them all! I think I will this coming 4th of July! Great pics and recipe!

  6. now why do i never see food like this at viet places?!?!?!!?!? i would totally change my opinion!! or maybe they do and i just never notice it 🙂

    just printed the recipe

  7. can you hear my stomach growling over there gastrogirl? That just looks fabulous… I have a boston butt in the freezer that has a meat cage in its very near future. And such gorgeous photos…

  8. I just did this recipe today. I looked all over for a decent meat cage though and couldn’t find one. Most of the ones I found were too wide, and none of the asian markets around here had one. if anyone has a good online lead, I’d love to know.

    Regardless, the recipe turned out delicious. thank you!

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  10. Can’t wait to try this! I haven’t found a restaurant version in SGV that quite satisfies my craving yet, but this looks really delicious 🙂

  11. MIke try looking for a meat cage at Gander Mountain or REI. Lots of campers have these…..

  12. I love that the Astronomer would rather get food than gifts. Would love to try this today but don’t have a meat cage. Thinking I should try the vietnamese store…

  13. Awesome birthday present! This recipe looks seriously yummy… I’m gonna find me a meat cage and try this out soon! Thanks!

  14. I tried the recipe and I think I messed up. Mine had an overpowering taste of lemongrass. The only difference is I didn’t use MSG and I didn’t use a meat cage. Is that right a 1/2 cup of lemongrass?

  15. Ralph – Yes, that’s correct. We love lemongrass in my family. Plus, with four pounds of meat it takes a good amount of lemongrass to flavor it all. I’m sorry to hear that the marinade wasn’t to your liking. Next time, adjust the seasonings to fit your palate.

  16. Okay thanks, I just wanted to make sure I made it correctly. I guess I thought the pork would taste sweeter due to the sugar and honey.

  17. Ralph – Oh, I see! Thit nuong is generally more lemongrassy and fish saucy, but if you prefer something sweeter, up the amount of honey and sugar. Or perhaps even experiment with brown sugar.

  18. Thanks so much for sharing this! I made it last night and it was just lovely. I did have to sub ginger for lemongrass because I realized too late that I was out of lemongrass, but it was still excellent.

  19. Oh! I should have added – for those who don’t have a grill or meat cage – that I cooked the pork on a griddle (a large frying pan would have done well, too) and the only thing missing was the smoky/woodsy taste that you can get with meat that has been cooked using a grill. The flavor was bold enough without that undertone. So to any readers who are curious but don’t have access to an outdoor grill, try the recipe anyway!

  20. Thank you for a great recipe! It’s simple yet the taste is beautiful. I cooked a BBQ for approx. 30 people today and all of them said that it was the best BBQ ever. Thank you again for sharing such a great recipe 🙂

  21. Hmmm… your Thịt nướng reminds me of Thai Moo Yang. I like the addition of honey and sesame seeds to the recipe. I am hungry just thinking of it. cảm ơn lắm 🙂

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  23. It look Nice and also good Flavors but i also require BBQ ON charcoal with High Heat to keep more Moisture on the food .the Flavour will be better and Please get Pork Neck to make that dishes because Pork neck is nice part with a little Bit fat on and quite soft and Tender .So when we do BBQ .it will be great

  24. Thank you very much for sharing your delicious recipe! We had some sliced pork neck in the fridge (coincidentally, as I just saw Master Chef Tan’s comment now), and the results with your marinade were wonderful, even without the scallion oil and nuoc mam, and with only an hour’s marination. My mother wants me to marinate make 8 pounds of pork and keep some of the marinated pork in the freezer so she can have some at short notice. Do you think it would be better to freeze the pork raw or after grilling? This is clearly going to be a family favorite!

  25. Pilinut – I’m so happy to hear that you thoroughly enjoyed the recipe! I’d suggest freezing the pork raw and either grilling or stir-frying to eat. It will taste fresher this way.

  26. I’m having a BDAY and this will be on the grill for sure BUT what else would go with this as a side?

  27. Thank you!! Both are beautiful sides I’ll be serving those as well. Cheers!

  28. Which is better to use? Pork butt or the top sirloin? I don’t really know the difference haha. And which is the least expensive? I’d love to give this a shot! If I don’t have a meat cage, would using a toaster oven work? Thanks for the recipe!

  29. Vicky – Pork butt is a less expensive cut. In place of a meat cage, I would skewer the meat on bamboo sticks and proceed to grilling. Good luck!

  30. I am thinking of trying this recipe for dinner. My family and I are huge lamb fanatics! Being from New Zealand, we always seem to have an extra large supply on hand. Would this recipe do well with lamb as the meat instead of pork butt? Looks amazing.

  31. Kai’a – I think that the lamb’s flavor will be too assertive for the marinade. The marinade will work better with beef if pork isn’t available.

  32. Thank you for sharing this recipe, it is very delicious. How much of the lemongrass is usable? I’ve been using the white parts and tossing the the greenish parts.

  33. Masa – That sounds about right. The woody, green leaves aren’t usable. The thicker “trunk” with the swirls of purple/green and the amazing fragrance are what you want to use.

  34. Just tried this recipe out, tested one piece of meat already, and seasoning is just right! I have one question though, how can we get the meat to become the rich golden brown color? Thanks!

  35. I’m super glad I finally found a recipe for this. Me and my boyfriend are obsessed with this food and we can’t wait to try this out. Just a quick aside, I’m not sure if you have a recipe for this but I figured there’s no harm in asking. What kind of pork would you use to put in spring rolls??

  36. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, can I cook the thit nuong in the oven? Is so, at what temp and how long?

  37. Simply awesome. I loved the way the honey and curry powder created a slightly sweet, slightly spicy blend. Tossed everything in a bag the morning and the were perfectly seasoned in time for dinner tonight. Done on my George Foreman, they were ready in 4 minutes. I used a mix of red and white onions as I wanted to use some leftovers up. Thanks!

  38. I have made this a few times now. I have also done the nuoc cham sauce to go with spring rolls that had the pork in them. I am going to try grating the shallots next time, so hopefully less will fall off while it is cooking.
    My family and our guests loved all of it. Thank you so much for sharing the love!

  39. i made this recipe over the weekend for my in-laws. My favorite Vietnamese restaurant makes this pork over a bed of rice sticks– and this recipe tasted was exactly like the dish I always order. Everyone loved it!

  40. Thank you for an excellent and well-written recipe! My wife is Vietnamese and we have always enjoyed cooking a wide variety of cuisine(s). In our town there are a couple of sad excuses for Viet restaurants, but this recipe (and my awesome cooking) beat them by a long shot. I just crawled away from a table full of this recipe, the whole deal. We do have cookbooks, but now I just come here. What a lovely, wonderful, amazing woman you are to have created this excellent blog. Thank you!

  41. i don’t have a grill. would it be ok to sautee or bake/broil it? if so, how would you suggest doing it? Also, how about a george foreman grill?

  42. Hi there! Just found your recipe and am going to give it a go. I had a question though. About how long would I grill the meat for? Thanks Gastronomer!

  43. This comment is long overdue. I have made this many times over the last several years, and it totally rocks! Thanks for a great recipe.

  44. I just finished preparing the marinade and it smells great however it seems like there isn’t enough liquid to dissolve the sugar. Am I missing something?

  45. FInally found the seasoning I’ve been looking for. Thank you! Grilled over charcoal gives it that special taste and golden color. Made my second batch already this week!

  46. Made this recipe and it is so awesome! The flavors are spot on and was just like mom’s. Thank you so much for posting and spreading and keeping Vietnamese flavors alive.

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