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Authentic Thit Nuong – Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork

Learn how to make delicious authentic Thit Nuong, a Vietnamese homestyle pork marinaded overnight with the bold flavors of lemongrass.

Thit Nuong is a Vietnamese grilled pork that is packed with layers of bold flavors. The sweet caramelization and slight char of the pork make it a popular dish especially at Vietnamese restaurants. Pho, goi cuon, and banh mi are some of the more popular Vietnamese food, but I think Thit Nuong should be up there as well due to it’s bold flavors and ability to be paired with all sorts of foundational bases like noodles, rice, and even bread.

Vietnamese grilled lemongrass pork is actually used in a multitude of cuisines because it’s so versatile. Two dishes that use Thit Nuong include Bun Thit Nuong (noodles) and Com Thit Nuong (rice), and that’s just naming only two of the most common ways this dish is presented.  I’ll explain more in detail on how this flavorful protein is used in some of the other Vietnamese dishes.

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The marinade for the pork dish is what makes this recipe so versatile because it really can be used on any cut of pork.

For any westerner who broadens their Vietnamese palette past Pho, they’ll this “dry noodle dish” to be more flavorful and potentially more revered.

All About Authentic Vietnamese Thit Nuong – Grilled Lemongrass Porkchop

What does Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork (Thit Nuong) taste like?

Thit Nuong has a delicate balance of savory, sweet, and bold flavors. The marinade embodies the strong flavors of lemongrass, which provides the pork a citrusy, yet sweet quality to it. The caramelization of the sugar over a hot grill provides the slight bit of char that helps provide layers of both texture and flavor.

Mostly commonly, Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork is paired with Vietnamese egg rolls (Cha Gio) atop a bed of vermicelli noodles with prepared fish sauce (nuoc mam) and pickled daikon and carrots (do chua). With this presentation of Thit Nuong, there are additional layers of fresh herbs, the crunch of the egg rolls, the balance of the noodles, and finally the fish sauce provides a complex level of sweet and bitter that ties the dish together.

What are other names for Thit Nuong?

Thit Nuong can be referred to in many ways because it is presented in so many different dishes. Thit Nuong is generally not served on it’s own, rather it’s embedded in other dishes with foundational elements of vermicelli noodles, jasmine rice, and even bread.

Names that Thit Nuong can be referred to include:

  • Com Thit Nuong – This just means with rice.
  • Thit Heo Nuong Xa – This means grilled pork with lemongrass.
  • Vietnamese Grilled Pork
  • Grilled Vietnamese Pork Chops
  • Vietnamese pork chops banh mi
  • Lemongrass Pork Vermicelli Recipe
  • Vietnamsee BBQ
  • Lemongrass Pork
  • Vietnamese Pork Lemongrass Marinade
  • Lemongrass Pork Chop

How do you pronounce Thit Nuong?

Vietnamese Thit Nuong is pronounced with the word Thit as you would pronounce it without the h in English (I won’t put it on here as it wouldn’t be appropriate in Google’s eyes) and Nuong is pronounced noong

What does Thit Nuong mean?

Thit means meat and Nuong means grill.

What do you serve Vietnamese Thit Nuong with?

Generally, Thit Nuong can be served with jasmine rice, vermicelli noodles, or as a meat layer inside of a Banh Mi sandwich.  Thit Nuong served with rice also generally comes with a fried easy over egg. Thit Nuong with vermicelli noodles is generally served on top layered with fresh herbs and pickled carrots and daikon. In all presentations, a popular dipping sauce that is used for Thit Nuong is Nuoc Mam Cham, which is a sweet and sour dipping sauce you generally find served at most Vietnamese restaurants.

What are regional Vietnamese versions of Thit Nuong?

In Northern Vietnam, Thit Nuong is set in a small bowl with the meat marinaded in a thicker  sweet fish sauce. The rice noodles/bread/jasmine rice will arrive on a separate plate followed by the vegetables. A regional flavor difference is that in Northern Vietnam, they do NOT use lemongrass, so it will have a more milder taste than that of Southern Vietnam’s variation of Thit Nuong.

In Southern Vietnam (and what you’ll find at most Vietnamese restaurants), the meat arrives atop a bed of rice noodles/bread/jasmine rice with the sweet fish sauce in it’s own separate bowl.

Other Regional Variations of Thit Nuong

Thailand’s version of this recipe is Thai Moo Yang.

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Asian Grocery Store List for Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork (Thit Nuong)

Alright, we are getting closer to the Thit Nuong recipe. Like always, I try to list out some specific things you should pick up at your local Asian market that you might not be able to find at your local western grocer.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass can be found at my Asian markets in the fresh vegetable and herb aisles. You’ll want to check the bottom of the stalk to inspect for freshness. Lemongrass can be used in a variety of Southeast Asian recipes, so could just pick up a bunch of stalks in this trip. You can freeze trimmed lemongrass in a freezer ready Ziploc bag for up to 3 months and will retain most of its flavor.

To prepare it for this dish, chop lemongrass by cutting it into thin rings, and then you can put them into the food processor to get them minced up into smaller pieces.

Vermicelli Noodles

Rice vermicelli noodles are very similar to spaghetti noodles. They are NOT rice sticks (see my comparison of vermicelli noodles vs rice sticks). This would be great to pick up at the local Asian market if you are stopping for lemongrass. Check out the brands I recommend here.

Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

I would try to pick up fresh herbs and vegetables like hot mint and Thai basil, as those would go really well atop a bed of vermicelli noodles along with this lemongrass pork.

Wire Basket or Meat Grill Cage

Thit Nuong is generally grilled over an open charcoal flame to get both the slight char and caramelization on the pork. Since most recipes for Thit Nuong require you to cut the pork into small chunks, a wire grilling meat cage or wire basket (like this one) is used to hold the meat together and get the delicious, slightly caramelized char on the surface area.

Things to Prepare Before Making This Dish

Prepare the Dipping Sauce

I would recommend making the Nuoc Mam Cham prepared fish sauce prior to making this dish.

Preparing the Daikon and Carrots (if using with noodles or bread)

Pickled daikon and carrots is an amazing accompaniment to this dish. I would recommend preparing this before as well (not required though).

Tips and Tricks Before Making Thit Nuong (Grilled Lemongrass Pork)

These are some of my tried and true tips and tricks before making Thit Nuong at home. Obviously, there are some variations of this recipe out there, but this is the one that I use for my family. I hope this helps you out. Change the flavors as you see fit, but this is the way that my family loves making them.

Meat Types to Use for Thit Nuong

Country style pork ribs tend to have more fat and are often more tender, so if you like the heartiness of that cut of meat, this would be a delicious marinade for it. Pork butt (also known as pork shoulder) is a less expensive cut, but can be used as well. In my pictures, I’m using pork steaks because it was just easier to find and grab. Honestly though, this marinade is great for all cuts of pork.

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Don’t Use Soy Sauce

I don’t really think soy sauce adds to the flavor of this dish. I might be in the minority, but I really think the other flavors far way better with this dish. So, try as hard as you can NOT to add soy sauce to the marinade.

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Don’t Use Sesame Seeds and Sesame Oil

You might find other variations of this recipe incorporating sesame seeds, sesame oil, and honey, but this recipe tries to keep it simple for things you might already have on hand.

Limiting Lemongrass Flavors

If you are afraid of the bold flavors of lemongrass and fish sauce (I don’t blame you), you might add honey and potentially brown sugar to sweeten up the recipe.

Lock-In the Moisture

If you plan on using an electric grill, utilize high heat at a lower duration to ensure that the meat retains it’s moisture.

Grilling Is the Preferred Method for All the Flavors

Grilled Thit Nuong is definitely the way to go because the charcoal gives it that extra layer of flavor and the golden color. When grilling, make sure you use the meat grate. You’ll also want to grill uncovered and watch it, especially when using fatty pieces as it will flare up.

Other Methods for Cooking Thit Nuong

Here are a few ways other people have tried making Thit Nuong:

  • Griddle or George Foreman Grill – This is a great alternative, but you will not get the woody, smokey flavor that you would get with a grill. It’s easier
  • Baking then Broiling – Broiling will allow you to get the caramelization that is often found when grilling, but you again won’t get the smokey flavor of a charcoal grill.

How to Make Authentic Vietnamese Thit Nuong Recipe

Ingredients for Vietnamese Thit Nuong

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  • 4 pounds of pork
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika

Instructions for Making Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork

Step 1: Prepare the pork

Cut the pork shoulder into 3 to 4 inch pieces and set aside.

vietnamese thit nuong lemongrass pork authentic 316

Step 2: Prepare the other ingredients

In a processor, add in lemongrass, shallots, garlic, sugar, and salt. Process until combined. 

vietnamese thit nuong lemongrass pork authentic 316

vietnamese thit nuong lemongrass pork authentic 316

Step 3: Mix with your hands

Transfer into large bowl. Add the pork pieces into the large bowl and add in fish sauce.

Evenly distribute the meat with the marinade.

vietnamese thit nuong lemongrass pork authentic 316

vietnamese thit nuong lemongrass pork authentic 316

Step 4: Allow to marinade overnight

Transfer to an overnight Ziploc bag and allow to marinade for at least 24 hours.

Step 5: Grill or Bake

Prepare for cooking. For a grill, set the heat to medium high. For baking, bake at 375 F.

For a grill, add the meat to the grill meat cage. Grill the pork on medium to high heat. Once the meat has a slight char, flip it over to ensure the other side receives a similar caramelization. Remove from grill.

For the oven, put on a roasting pan. Turn the meat to ensure that the pork is cooked all the way through. In the last five minutes, broil for 5 minutes to allow for slight caramelization.

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Step 6: Serve Thit Nuong with Accompaniments

Once cooked through, assemble with with vermicelli rice sticks, jasmine rice, or even with just lettuce. You can garnish with fresh vegetables on top with prepared fish sauce.

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Preserving Thit Nuong After Cooking

Leftover Vietnamese Thit Nuong can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork

What part of lemongrass is usable?

Lemongrass parts that can be used in cooking (especially in Southeast Asian cuisines) is the trunk section, often indicated by the light green and purple coloration. The top green, woody leaves are not usable or edible.

How long can grilled pork be stored in the refrigerator?

It can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days for freshness.

What can I substitute in place of lemongrass for Thit Nuong?

If you don’t have lemongrass available, you can use a combination of ½ teaspoon of Chinese five-space powder and ½ teaspoon of ginger as a substitute.

Other Recipes That Complement Vietnamese Thit Nuong Lemongrass Pork

I’ve mentioned a lot of different recipes that Thit Nuong often accompanies, so I wanted to list out all of the recipes here for you to try. One other variation I would recommend presentation wise is a meld of Vietnamese and Lao cooking. You can serve up Thit Nuong with sticky rice (which is not a typical ingredient) with prepared fish sauce. It’s a winning combination in my family of both Lao and Vietnamese descendants.

Summary About Vietnamese Grilled Pork Recipe

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Authentic Vietnamese Thit Nuong is something you must try at least once in every presentation – with rice, with vermicelli noodles, and on top of Banh Mi. The meat itself is not complicated, but if you venture and try making Bun Thit Nuong, that’s when you’ll need to take time to mentally prepare the day before on what you need to do in order to make this dish. Whether you are wanting to eat this on a bed of vermicelli noodles or on a bed of jasmine rice with an egg, it is a recipe that takes about a day and a half of preparation and thought so that this delectable dish can come together.

vietnamese thit nuong lemongrass pork authentic 316

I hope you love my version of this dish just as much as my family does!

vietnamese thit nuong lemongrass pork authentic 316

Authentic Vietnamese Thit Nuong (Grilled Lemongrass Pork)

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 24 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 4 minutes

Delicious and flavorful grilled lemongrass pork that you can make it home replicated from your favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of pork
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika

Instructions

  1. Cut the pork shoulder into 3 to 4 inch pieces and set aside.
  2. In a processor, add in lemongrass, shallots, garlic, sugar, and salt. Process until combined. 
  3. Transfer into large bowl. Add the pork pieces into the large bowl and add in fish sauce.
  4. Evenly distribute the meat with the marinade.
  5. Transfer to an overnight Ziploc bag and allow to marinade for at least 24 hours.
  6. Prepare for cooking. For a grill, set the heat to medium high. For baking, bake at 375 F.
  7. For a grill, add the meat to the grill meat cage. Grill the pork on medium to high heat. Once the meat has a slight char, flip it over to ensure the other side receives a similar caramelization. Remove from grill.
  8. For the oven, put on a roasting pan. Turn the meat to ensure that the pork is cooked all the way through. In the last five minutes, broil for 5 minutes to allow for slight caramelization.
  9. Once cooked through, assemble with with vermicelli rice sticks, jasmine rice, or even with just lettuce. You can garnish with fresh vegetables on top with prepared fish sauce.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 772Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 266mgSodium: 1350mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 80g
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Thit nuong vietnamese lemongrass pork

Thit nuong vietnamese lemongrass pork

Thit nuong vietnamese lemongrass pork

Thit nuong vietnamese lemongrass pork

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