You can use this marinade with small pieces of pork and thread them on skewers and dip them in some nuoc cham dipping sauce. If there’s no lemongrass, use about 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder instead. Slicing the pork at the end is a traditional Vietnamese approach to eating meat as the pieces are easier to pick up with chopsticks. Enjoy with rice, a stir-fried or grilled vegetable and a quick soup (canh). Feel free to stuff leftovers into banh mi sandwiches and use them for bun rice noodle salad bowls.
1 pound boneless pork shoulder steak, about 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons granulated or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped shallot or yellow onion
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon dark (black) soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oil
Cut the pork shoulder steak into pieces about 3 to 4 inches big. Set aside.
Put the sugar, garlic, shallot and lemongrass into an electric mini chopper and process to a fine texture. (Or, mince the garlic, shallot, and lemongrass individually, put them into a bowl, and add the sugar.) Add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil and process to combine well. Aim for a relatively smooth texture. The marinade will be chocolate brown. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the pork, and turn to coat well. Cover and set aside at room temperature to marinate for 1 hour. Or, refrigerate up to 24 hours, letting the meat sit out at room temperature for 45 minutes to remove some of the chill before grilling.
Preheat a grill to medium-high. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. Nick with a knife to test. Transfer to a plate, loosely cover with foil or an inverted bowl for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.