Sweet and Salty Grilled Pork With Citrus and Herbs

1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons sambal chile paste (optional)
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 lime, halved crosswise, plus 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes)
1 orange or tangerine, halved crosswise (optional)
Cooked rice noodles or rice, for serving (optional)
1 head Boston lettuce or escarole, torn into large pieces
6 mint sprigs
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 shallot, thinly sliced into rings

Using a sharp knife, slice pork shoulder crosswise into 1-inch-thick steaks. (Depending on the shape and cut of your shoulder, some pieces may not stay together in a steak shape; this is O.K.) Season pork with salt and pepper and place in a shallow baking dish (a 9-by-13 works best) or resealable plastic bag.

Combine fish sauce, light brown sugar, sambal (if using), garlic and 1/2 cup lime juice in a medium bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour half of the mixture over the pork and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the grill, using tongs to turn pork once or twice to make sure all of it is getting enough attention from the marinade. (There’s no need to refrigerate, unless you are working ahead, in which case you should refrigerate until ready to grill.)

If you’re using a charcoal grill, build the fire so it’s screaming hot. This pork is to be cooked hot and fast, so the hotter the better. If you’re using a gas grill, heat it on high. Bring a clean baking dish out to the grill for the pork to rest in after cooking.

Once the grill is sufficiently hot, grill the pork until deeply browned and lightly charred on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side (this will happen faster on a charcoal grill), moving the pork around as needed to prevent excessive flare-ups, which, depending on how fatty your pork is, will happen with varying severity. Grill the lime and orange, if using, cut-side down, until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the pork and lime from the grill and let rest a minute or two in that same large baking dish to catch the juices. Drizzle the remaining lime dressing over the sliced pork and let it rest for a few minutes so the juices mix with the dressing.

Slice the pork about 1/4 inch thick. Arrange rice noodles or rice, if using, on a large platter and top with lettuce, along with some of the mint, cilantro and shallots. Top with sliced pork and remaining herbs and shallots. Spoon the juices from the bottom of the baking dish over everything, and serve with the grilled citrus for squeezing.

Hanoi Grilled Pork Satay

2 pounds pork tenderloin
1/2 cup sugar
1 star anise
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup Shaoxing rice wine (may substitute dry vermouth, sake, sherry or white wine)
3/4 cup (6 ounces) pineapple juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably dark
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Vegetable oil
Fresh mint, Thai basil and cilantro leaves or sprigs, for serving (optional)

Have skewers ready. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 to 30 minutes before using.

Cut the pork into strips about 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide or into bite-size chunks. In a shallow bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine the sugar, star anise, cinnamon, pepper, salt, wine, pineapple juice, soy sauce and sesame oil, and stir or shake to combine. Add the pork and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Preheat the grill or broiler.

Lightly oil the skewers. Thread the pork onto the skewers, reserving the marinade. If the pork was cut into strips, weave them onto the skewer so they are punctured by the skewers at least 3 times; if using chunks, space them about 1 inch apart. Transfer the skewers to a plate; set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the marinade to a boil. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Generously coat the grill or broiler rack with vegetable oil. Grill the pork skewers, turning occasionally, until cooked through and slightly charred, 4 to 7 minutes, depending on the flame and the size of the pork. Baste the pork with the marinade during the last couple of minutes of grilling. Serve warm.

Asian Cucumber Salad (with Variations)

1 1/2 pounds Turkish, Persian or English cucumbers (about 5 cups sliced)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4–5 scallions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey, or sugar)
1 teaspoon red chili paste (or sriracha, both optional) more to taste
1–2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Using the tines of a fork, score the cucumbers lengthwise- this will help the dressing cling to the cucumber. (Feel free to skip if in a hurry.)

Slice the cucumbers thinly. Place in a bowl and toss with the salt to help them release water. Let this stand while you gather the remaining ingredients.

Strain the cucumbers, place them in a large bowl and add the scallions, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup, optional red chili paste and toasted sesame seeds. Mix to combine.

Taste and adjust salt to your liking. Add more chili paste if you like.
Refigerate until ready to serve. This is best served the same day but will keep up to 3 days.

Optional Additions: to go with a more Thai theme you could add fish sauce, lime juice, Thai Basil, and crushed peanuts. To give it more of a Korean twist and add Gochujang. Leave out the chili paste and garlic to give it more of a Japanese spin. You get the idea.

Vietnamese Beef and Green Papaya Salad

1 lb beef (tenderloin, tri tip or flank steak)
2–3 Cups shredded Green Papaya ( or rice noodles)
1 Cup combo of fresh mint, cilantro and basil
2 T roasted crushed peanuts ( optional)
1 T fried shallots ( optional- see below)

Dressing:
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T plus 1 tsp olive oil
1 T plus 1 tsp sugar
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp mild red chili- finely sliced
1 finely minced garlic clove

Beef Marinade:
1/4 C pounded or finely chopped lemongrass
1/4 C garlic-finely minced or pounded
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 T oyster sauce
2 T sugar 1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp five spice

Make marinade. Slice beef to 1/2 inch thick bite size pieces, toss with marinate and let sit at least 30 minutes. Or refrigerate up to 8 hours. Grill or pan fry until just cooked.

Peel and shred green papaya and place in a bowl of ice water for 15-20 minutes. Alternatively, you could prepare rice noodles following manufacturer’s directions.

Make dressing. Combine lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, oil, chili, garlic.
Drain Papaya and toss(or rice noodles) with dressing to coat. Place on a plate along with beef and a combination of the fresh herbs. Top with roasted peanuts and crispy shallots. Serve with chop sticks.

Fried Shallots- can either be made from scratch, although most Asian markets offer them as a condiment already packaged, which I have found are extremely handy and tasty. They offer good flavor and texture.

Lemongrass can be found in most grocery stores, in the herb or produce section. If you find you cook with lemon grass a lot, a nice option is purchasing it in bulk, already chopped in the freezer section of most Asian markets.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad w/ Pickled Vegetables

4–5 ounces rice noodles
2 garlic clove, finely grated
1 shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoon sugar (or honey)
1 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce (optional) or red chili flakes
4–5 cups your choice of julienned or match stick cut vegetables: carrots, bell peppers, daikon radish, turnips, cucumber, zucchini ribbons, radish, green papaya
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1 cup chopped cilantro,
1 cup chopped basil or mint, or a mix.
4–8 ounces cooked, chilled shrimp, or cubed tofu (both optional)

Cook rice noodles according to directions on the package, rinse with cold running water. Alternately, pour boiling water over noodles in a bowl. Let noodles soak until tender but not mushy, anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on the size, then drain and rinse under very cold water until throughly chilled.

In a small sauce pan, add garlic, shallot, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, oil, sugar, and Sriracha and give a stir, bring to a simmer. Place the vegetables in a large bowl, and pour pickling liquid over top, toss to coat well. Chill 15 minutes in the fridge, and toss again.

Add noodles and half of the herbs to the pickled vegetable bowl; toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with remaining herbs, just before serving, This salad is best served very cold, so I’ll often make it one hour ahead or the day before.

If adding shrimp, toss in at the same time as the noodles.

Vietnamese Vermicelli Salad with Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

1/3 cup rice vine vinegar
3 tablespoons organic cane sugar, coconut sugar, or honey
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (or use vegan fish sauce, or salt to taste then add a tiny drizzle of soy sauce, or liquid aminos)
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 cup red onion, sliced very thin- or use a shallot (or sub quick pickled onions, added later with herbs)
2 garlic cloves, minced

4–5 ounces uncooked rice vermicelli noodles or bean thread noodles
2 cups julienned carrot
2 cups julienned cucumber
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 tablespoons olive oil– optional- see notes
* feel free to sub other veggies for the carrots and cucumber- like zucchini noodles, red bell, turnip, kohlrabi, radishes

Place the first 6 ingredients in a small sauce pan, bring to a simmer, simmer five minutes and place in the fridge to cool.

Cook the noodles according to directions.

Place drained rinsed noodles in a large bowl and top with veggies and herbs.
Toss well. Add the the chilled dressing and herbs, tossing again.

Top with crushed roasted peanuts.

For extra protein, add Baked Sesame Ginger Tofu – super delish!

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

2– 2 1/4 lbs chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

Marinade:

2 stalks lemongrass (1/2 cup chopped)
1 medium shallot, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, whole
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce ( or GF Bragg’s Amino Acid)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar ( or alternative sweetener)
1 teaspoon Five-Spice powder
1–3 teaspoons Chili Garlic Sauce ( optional, for heat)

Serve with rice noodles, sliced cucumber, Nuoc Cham dressing, and fresh herbs ( mint and Thai basil) sprouts and lime wedges to create the bowl, or serve with rice.

Make the lemongrass paste. Thinly slice the tender white parts of the lemongrass stalks and place in the food processor. ( You do need to slice it first, otherwise, it will be stringy.) You should have roughly 1/2 cup. Add the garlic cloves and rough-chopped shallot. Pulse repeatedly until lemongrass gets broken down. Add oil, soy sauce, salt, sugar and Five-spice and optional chili garlic sauce and process into a paste, scraping down sides as needed. Process for a couple of minutes, until lemongrass is really chopped up finely and it looks like a paste.

Coat all sides of the chicken with the paste. You can do this ahead and refrigerate up to 48 hours. Or grill right away.

Oil the grill well. Grill chicken over medium-high, or medium heat, until deep grill marks appear, 3-4 minutes. The grill marks help naturally release the chicken from the grill, so wait for them. Do not move chicken around too much or you will lose the lemongrass. I like to use a thin metal spatula to flip. Then cook 3 more minutes, check for grill marks, then lower heat way down, cover with lid, and cook all the way through. You can also finish in a 350 F oven, uncovered.

Serve over rice noodles with cucumber, mint, Thai basil and nuoc cham dressing. Or simply over rice.

Grilled Tofu

1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, sliced crosswise into eight equal slices (about 1/2-inch thick)
2 tablespoons safflower or canola oil, plus more for greasing grates
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped scallions

Arrange sliced tofu in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate. Press top with more paper towels to remove excess water. Arrange tofu in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, or any shallow dish that can hold the tofu in one layer.
In a small saucepan, combine oil, garlic and ginger over medium; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, sugar, pepper and 1/4 cup water, and cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes.

Pour hot marinade over tofu. Gently turn tofu slices to evenly coat, then cover dish tightly with plastic wrap to seal in heat. Refrigerate for 6 hours (or up to 8 hours), flipping tofu slices halfway through.

Heat grill to medium and grease grates well (or heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium and lightly grease). Grill tofu over direct heat until golden and caramelized, about 3 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, transfer marinade to a small saucepan over medium and warm through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in scallions.

Transfer tofu to a serving plate and spoon over the sauce. Serve warm.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork (Thit Nuong)

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of surface fat
5 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 medium shallots, quartered
2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed to the lower 5 or 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, thinly sliced
1 serrano chili, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Nuoc cham
Pickled carrots and daikon
Lettuce leaves, to serve

Place the pork on a large plate and freeze until the meat is firm and partially frozen, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the garlic, shallots, lemon grass, chili, five-spice and 1½ teaspoons each salt and pepper. Process until finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and honey, then process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

Using a chef’s knife, slice the partially frozen pork against the grain into pieces about ? inch thick. The slices will be irregularly shaped; cut them into strips about 1-inch wide (it’s fine if the strips are not uniform). Add to the seasoning paste and toss, rubbing the paste into the meat.

Thread the pork onto ten 10- to 12-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and scrunching it together, packing it quite tightly. If some pieces are too wide, too wispy or awkwardly shaped, fold the meat or tuck in the edges as you skewer. Place on a rimmed baking sheet or in a large baking dish, cover and refrigerate while you prepare the grill.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 minutes, then clean and oil the grate. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high and heat, covered, for 15 minutes, then clean and oil the grate.

Place the skewers on the hot side of the grill (if using charcoal) and cook until lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the second sides are lightly charred, about another 3 minutes. Flip the skewers again and continue to cook, turning every couple of minutes, until well charred on both sides, about another 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with about 1/4 cup of the nuoc cham. Serve with the pickles and lettuce leaves for wrapping and with the remaining n??c ch?m for spooning on or dipping.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to pack the pork tightly onto the skewers. This helps prevent overcooking. If using a gas grill, make sure to allow it to heat covered for about 15 minutes before cleaning and placing the skewers on the grate. This helps ensure that the grill is hot enough that the pork chars nicely.

Vietnamese Grilled Eggplant (Ca Tim Nuong)

1 1/2 pounds Chinese or Japanese eggplant, stemmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Nuoc cham
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro, mint and/or basil, torn if large
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2-1 cup drained pickled carrots and daikon

Brush the eggplant on all sides with the oil, then sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 minutes, then clean and oil the grate. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high and heat, covered, for 15 minutes, then clean and oil the grate.

Place the eggplant halves cut side down (on the hot side of the grill if using charcoal). Cook uncovered until charred on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Move the eggplant skin side down to the cool side of the grill if using charcoal or turn the burners to low if using gas. Cover and cook until a skewer inserted at the center of the eggplant halves meets no resistance, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the eggplant to a cutting board, then cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces and place on a serving dish. Spoon on about 1/3 cup of the nuoc cham Sprinkle with the peanuts, herbs, scallions and pickles, then serve with the remaining nuoc cham.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to get a good char on the eggplant. The smokiness that results from deep, dark charring is a flavor component that contributes to the complexity of the dish.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

FOR THE SALAD
8 ounces dried rice noodles (pad Thai/linguine width)
Handful mixed fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro and mint
6 to 8 ounces cooked meat (see headnote)
2 ounces shredded/matchstick-cut carrot (see headnote; may substitute 1 medium carrot, scrubbed and shredded)
2 cups shredded cabbage, preferably Napa (see headnote; may substitute 3 or 4 napa cabbage leaves, very thinly sliced)
4 ounces sliced cucumber (see headnote; may substitute 1/2 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced)
1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, for garnish

FOR THE DRESSING
1 or 2 limes
1 medium clove garlic
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
6 to 8 tablespoons water
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

For the salad: Lay a clean dish towel on the counter.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and wait for 1 minute before stirring to separate them. Cook for about 3 minutes; the noodles need to be just tender but not mushy. Drain in a colander, then immediately dump the noodles onto the dish towel, separating them from each other as much as possible

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Squeeze the juice of the lime(s) — enough to yield 3 tablespoons — into a small bowl. Mince the garlic and add it to the bowl, along with the fish sauce, brown sugar (to taste), water (as needed) and crushed red pepper flakes.

Coarsely chop or tear the herb leaves. Tear the cooked meat into bite-size pieces and arrange on a platter, along with the herbs, carrot, cabbage and cucumber. Arrange the noodles on the platter; drizzle with a few spoonfuls of the dressing.

Coarsely chop the peanuts, then scatter them over the salad components.

Seat the bowl of dressing in or alongside the platter. Let everyone at the table help themselves.

Possible add-ins: blanched snow peas, sliced thin; fresh mung bean sprouts; fried shallots or store-bought fried shallots/onions. Freshly cooked rice can be used instead of the noodles; ribbons of baby bok choy leaves can take the place of the cabbage; leftover pork chop or grilled shrimp or extra-firm tofu can stand in as proteins.

Air Fryer Bun Thit Nuong (Vietnamese Crispy Pork Salad)

FOR THE MARINADE
1/4 cup onions, chopped
2 tablespoons Oil
1 tablespoon splenda or 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass paste
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 pound thinly sliced pork shoulder

FOR FINISHING
1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley

In a bowl, whisk together the onions, sugar, soy sauce, oil, garlic, fish sauce, lemongrass, and pepper.

Thinly slice the pork shoulder into 1/2 in slices, and then cut crossways into 4-inch pieces.

Add the pork to the marinade and let it rest for 30 minutes or for up to 24 hours.

Remove the pork slices from the marinade, and place in single layer in the air fryer basket.

Set the air fryer to 400ºF and cook the pork for 10 minutes, flipping over halfway.

Test with a meat thermometer to ensure the pork has reached an internal temperature of 165ºF.

Remove pork to a serving tray, sprinkle with the roasted peanuts and cilantro or parsley, and serve.

Peanut Sauce

1/3 cup (86 g) Creamy Peanut Butter
1/4 cup (62.5 g) hot water
2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) White Vinegar
1 (1 ) lime, juiced
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Minced Ginger
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Garlic
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Ground Black Pepper

Place all ingredients into a blender and whirl until smooth.

Serve with vegetables, leftover cooked chicken, or as a salad dressing in your favorite salad.

Quick Chicken Pho

2 quarts chicken broth (1.9 liters)
8 slices ginger
2 red chilies (sliced)
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts (thinly sliced)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil
12 oz. dried pho noodles
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
2/3 cup fresh mint
2/3 cup fresh cilantro
2/3 cup Thai basil
Lime wedges

Bring a pot of water to a boil for your noodles. Also bring the stock to a boil in a medium pot, along with the ginger, chilies, fish sauce, and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Sear the chicken, and set aside.

While that’s happening, boil the noodles according to package instructions. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Divide the broth and the chicken amongst the bowls, and garnish with bean sprouts, mint, cilantro, and basil.

Squeeze over some lime juice, and add more fish sauce, if desired.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium yellow onions, halved
1 2″ (5cm) piece ginger, sliced
1 small bunch cilantro
3 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1?4 cup (60ml) fish sauce
1 tablespoon raw sugar
2 quarts (2L) low-sodium chicken broth 2 pounds (1kg) chicken legs

To serve
4 servings prepared pho noodles
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Suggested garnishes
2 cups mixed herbs (cilantro, basil, mint)
2 cups bean sprouts
Thinly sliced Thai chilies (may substitute Serrano peppers) Lime wedges
Hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce

Select SEAR and preheat the cooking bowl. Heat the vegetable oil until shimmering then add the onions and ginger, cut side down. Cook until charred, 5 minutes.

Add the cilantro, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, coriander seeds, fish sauce, sugar and chicken broth and stir to combine.

Add the chicken legs.

Select PRESSURE COOK or SLOW COOK SOUP.

When cooking has completed, transfer chicken legs to a plate. Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve and discard solids. Skim any scum from the top. Season to taste with fish sauce and sugar.

Place prepared noodles in individual bowls and top with chicken legs, onions and green onions. Pour hot broth over and top with desired garnishes

Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops

3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped (1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped shallot, or 3 tablespoons of coarsely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup of coarsely chopped fresh lemongrass (from 2 medium stalks; tough outer layer discarded)
2 tablespoons of light or dark brown sugar
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of canola or other neutrally flavored oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of fish sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of molasses or dark amber honey
4 thin-cut, bone-in pork chops (6 ounces each), about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup of nuoc cham dipping sauce (optional; see note)

Combine the garlic, shallot or onion, lemongrass, brown sugar and pepper in a mini food processor; process to a fine texture. Add the canola oil, fish sauce, soy sauce and molasses or honey; process until relatively smooth, to form a wet paste. This is your marinade; transfer to a mixing bowl.

Use paper towels to blot excess moisture from the pork. Add the pork to the marinade, turning to coat well, then cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Or, refrigerate for up to 24 hours; let the meat sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.

Heat a cast-iron stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove the chops, discarding any leftover marinade. Do not wipe off the meat.

Add the pork chops to the pan; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, turning frequently, until firm and cooked through. To check doneness, pierce with the tip of a sharp knife; it’s okay if the center is faintly pink. Transfer them to a plate to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve the chops warm, passing the dipping sauce at the table, if desired.

VARIATION: To make the marinade without a food processor, mince the garlic and shallot, transfer to a large bowl, then mix with 3 tablespoons grated or minced lemongrass (or store-bought lemongrass paste) and the remaining ingredients.

NOTE: To make the dipping sauce, combine 1 tablespoon sugar (or 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup), 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice and 1/4 cup warm water in a medium bowl. Taste, and, as needed, add 3/4 teaspoon sugar (or 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup) and/or 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice; dilute with water if you go too far. If there’s an unpleasant tart-bitter edge, add 2 teaspoons of plain rice vinegar to fix the flavor. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce, aiming for a bold, forward finish that’s a little gutsy. If you want heat, add 1 thinly sliced Thai or serrano chile, or 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chile garlic sauce or sambal oelek; for pungency, add 1 small minced garlic clove. The yield is 1/2 to 2/3 cup.

Homemade Rice Noodles

1 1/4cups rice flour
2 tablespoons tapioca starch (or cornstarch)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil (plus more for brushing)

Add the rice flour, tapioca starch (or cornstarch), salt and water to a mixing bowl. Mix and dissolve everything together well. Add 1 teaspoon of oil, and strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl. Cover the liquid and let rest for 30 minutes.

While the mixture is resting, fill your wok (make sure that your flat-bottomed pan fits comfortably inside first!) with water. If you don’t have a wok, use a large, deep cooking vessel with a wide opening and a lid. Bring the water to a boil. (You might need to add more water throughout the cooking process. The goal is to have the pan float on top of the boiling water.)
Brush a light coating of oil on the bottom of the flat-bottom pan, put the pan on top of the boiling water, and add a 1/4 cup of the rice liquid to the pan. Tilt it a little so the rice liquid covers the bottom of the pan.

Now, cover with the pot/wok lid and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. If the flat bottom pan you use has a thicker bottom, e.g., Pyrex, increase the cooking time to 7 or 8 minutes. While it’s cooking, brush the second pan lightly with oil.

After 5 minutes, remove the lid, take out the 1st pan, and set aside. Put the 2nd pan on top of the water in the wok, add a 1/4 cup of the rice mixture. Tilt it a little so the rice liquid evenly covers the bottom, cover, and let cook.

While it’s cooking, attend to the first pan. We’re going to lift the noodle sheet out and place it onto a cutting board. Brush the cutting board with a thin layer of oil to prevent sticking. Then, use a rubber spatula to loosen all sides of the sheet of noodle, and slowly lift it up and off the pan. Lay it flat on your cutting board. By now, your second pan is probably ready. Remember to brush the first layer with a thin layer of oil before layering the second sheet on top to prevent sticking.
Now brush the bottom of the 1st pan with some oil and get ready to make your 3rd batch. Repeat the above steps until all of the noodle batter is gone. Once all of the noodle sheets are made, I cut the noodle sheets into 1/3-inch wide pieces, but feel free to cut them in whatever sizes and shapes you like. I then toss the noodles, loosening each layer to separate them. Now the rice noodles are ready to be used!

You can store these noodles in the refrigerator for a day or two. They might harden slightly, but they should bounce back nicely once heated. Enjoy your homemade noodles!

Bahn Mi Noodle Bowl with Tofu (Bun Chay)

2 ounces dry rice noodles (or use zucchini noodles)
Boiling water

Quick pickled veggies:

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 cup matchstick carrots (or grated)
1/2 cup sliced radishes (or try daikon or watermelon radish-like in the photos)
1 teaspoon sugar (or alternative equivalent, honey, maple, coconut sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Creamy Sriracha Dressing:

4 tablespoons Veganaise or vegan mayo (or use regular)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (or Sambal, or Chili Garlic Sauce)
1 teaspoon sugar or alternative sweetener
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce or vegan fish sauce (or regular fish sauce)

Bowl ingredients:

6 ounces tofu, patted dry, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (or chicken, see notes)
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
1/2 a red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh torn mint leaves
1/2 a jalapeno, very thinly sliced
lime wedges
optional additions- sprouts, avocado, daikon, grated beet, cilantro

Cook the Noodles: Pour boiling water over rice noodles and let sit 5-6 minutes, or until softened, drain, rinse and set aside. (I use a shallow baking dish for this)

Make the Pickles (don’t skip!) At the same time heat 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup vinegar on the stove in a small pot, add sugar, salt, radishes, and carrots and bring to a simmer, and toss to coat well. Turn heat off. Place them in a bowl and chill.

Make the Creamy Sriracha Dressing: place ingredients in a small bowl and whisk.

Make the Crispy Tofu: Heat oil in a skillet, and season the oil with salt and pepper. Add the tofu and sear over medium heat until all sides are crispy. Stir in a little sriracha for heat at the end.
Prep your veggies. Slice the cucumber, bell pepper and cabbage (using a mandolin is nice, or just very thinly slice).

Assemble the Bowls: divide the noodles and arrange all the veggies around it. Grab the chilling pickled veggies and divide. Add the tofu to the bowls and Spoon the flavorful dressing overtop.
Garnish the bowls with fresh mint, jalapeño slices and lime wedges.

Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops (Thit Heo Nuong Xa)

For the Pork:
2 teaspoons whole white peppercorns, or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper (4g)
Pinch kosher salt
3 stalks lemongrass, bottom 4 to 5 inches only, outer leaves discarded, tender core thinly sliced (about 2 ounces; 60g sliced lemongrass)
1 small shallot, roughly chopped (about 1 ounce; 30g total)
4 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped (3/4 ounce; about 20g)
1/3 cup palm sugar (about 3 ounces; 85g)
1/4 cup (60ml) fish sauce
2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds (680g) thin-cut pork chops, preferably blade end, with plenty of fat and marbling

For the Sauce:
1 recipe basic Nuoc Cham
1/4 cup (30g) very thinly julienned or grated carrot (optional)
1/4 cup (30g) very thinly julienned or grated daikon radish (optional)
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (preferably Thai or Vietnamese; optional)

To Serve:
Steamed white rice
Sliced cucumber

For the Pork: If using whole white peppercorns, crush with salt in a mortar and pestle until roughly crushed. Add salt, lemongrass, shallot, garlic, palm sugar, and pre-ground white pepper (if using) to mortar and crush to a rough paste. You can continue crushing by hand at this point or transfer to a food processor to finish the job.

Transfer marinade to a bowl and whisk in fish sauce and vegetable oil. Add pork chops, turning them to coat all surfaces. Transfer pork to a gallon-size zipper-lock bag, press out the air, and seal bag. Marinate at room temperature, turning pork once or twice, for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours. Alternatively, transfer to refrigerator and marinate, turning once or twice, for up to 12 hours before proceeding.

For the Sauce: Prepare Nuoc Cham according to the recipe, then add carrot and daikon to the same bowl, if using. Add chili flakes to taste, if using. Extra sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

4.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Grill pork chops directly over high heat, turning frequently and shifting to cooler side of grill if there are excessive flare-ups, until pork is charred and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately with steamed white rice, sliced cucumber, and sauce.

Nuoc Cham

Ingredients
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 small bird’s eye chili, minced optional

In a small bowl, whisk together water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add in lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and chili (if using) and stir to combine. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cucumber Salad with Soy, Ginger, and Garlic

2 large thin-skinned cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small garlic clove, minced, or granulated garlic or garlic flakes to taste
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons sunflower oil or grapeseed oil
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Sprinkle the cucumbers with a generous amount of salt and let sit in a colander in the sink for 15 minutes. Rinse and dry on a kitchen towel. Transfer to a salad bowl.

Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and pepper. Whisk in the sesame oil and the sunflower or grapeseed oil. Toss with the cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.