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Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon Recipe

Vietnamese Pork Chops  with Pickled Watermelon Recipe

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Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon Recipe

This dish is a bold mix of salty, sweet, and acidic components. Crunchy slabs of melon and sharp greens keep it fresh; meaty chops provide depth.


Pork Chops

  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 4 1"-thick bone-in pork chops (about 2 ½ lb. total)


  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups trimmed purslane or arugula
  • ½ pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into pieces, thinly sliced

Recipe Preparation

Pork Chops

  • Whisk shallots, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and Sriracha in a shallow baking dish. Add pork chops and turn to coat. Cover and chill, turning occasionally, at least 1 hour.

  • Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Remove pork chops from marinade, scraping off excess, and grill until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

  • DO AHEAD: Pork chops can be marinated 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.


  • Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season with salt.

  • Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add purslane, watermelon, and Pickled Watermelon Rind; season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat.

  • Serve pork chops with watermelon salad topped with fried shallots.

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 620 Fat (g) 39 Saturated Fat (g) 9 Cholesterol (mg) 95 Carbohydrates (g) 29 Dietary Fiber (g) 1 Total Sugars (g) 21 Protein (g) 39 Sodium (mg) 1830Reviews Section

Up your summer grilling game with lemongrass-marinated Vietnamese pork chops

When I was young and my parents went out, my Vietnamese babysitter would make grilled lemongrass pork chops. I loved ripping the smoky meat from the bones with my teeth and licking the sticky bits off my fingers.

The sugar in the marinade — fragrant with fish sauce, lemongrass, shallots, chiles and garlic — caramelizes on the outside of the meat, while the meat inside those crackly charred edges stays juicy. I prefer ⅓-inch-thick pork shoulder chops (they have lots of bones), but use what you can find at your market and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

For the best grilled pork, choose bone-in pork chops, then follow these tips to cook them perfectly with charred outsides and juicy insides.

And don’t forget the nuoc cham: My version uses watermelon radish instead of carrots for a peppery bite. Pile it on the chops but also use it as a dipping sauce for the fresh, cooling vegetables on the side.

These flavorful chops are great on their own or eaten with jasmine rice or thin vermicelli rice noodles. Refrigerate any leftover meat, then thinly slice and use it to stuff into sandwiches, summer rice paper rolls or tacos.


  • 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

How to make Vietnamese lemongrass pork chops

You just need to spend 5-10 minutes to prepare the marinade and let the pork chops sit in the marinade to soak up all the flavors and aromas. After that, grill them for a few minutes, and that’s it. I often marinate them in the morning and then cook them in the evening for a quick hassle-free dinner.

Now, let me walk you through some important points to make these lemongrass pork chops just like those at Vietnamese restaurants.

Pork chops

For this dish, it’s best to use thin-cut chops which are about 1/2-inch thick and have some marbles. Thin cuts need less time to marinate and cook. We can grill them on high heat so that we’ll get both great texture and caramelization.

The marinade

There is more than one way to make the marinade for Vietnamese grilled pork chops, but generally, it always includes these main components: aromatics, sweeteners, and condiments to provide the saltiness. I usually marinate for 4 – 6 hours.

The must-have aromatic is, of course, lemongrass. You can find it at Asian grocery stores. My Western grocery stores start to carry lemongrass, but the price can be higher than at Asian stores.

Lemongrass is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines including Vietnamese cuisine (such as in this Bun Cha Hanoi recipe or Lemongrass Chili Tofu).

If you like to cook Southeast Asian food regularly, you can buy a lot and put in the freezer so that you always have some stalks on hand. It does lose its fragrance over time in the freezer though.

How to prep lemongrass

To prep lemongrass, first, peel off the 2 – 4 outer layers which are often dry. Then, cut off the bottom bulb which is 1 – 2 inch long. We want to use just the white and light-green part of the lemongrass, which is the 6-inch chubby lower end right next to the bulb.

The skinny green part is tough and fibrous and doesn’t have as much aroma, so discard that part. Now, smash the chubby part, slice thinly and chop finely. In addition to lemongrass, I also use minced shallots and garlic in the marinade.

The fish sauce debate

My marinade has soy sauce, oyster sauce, and no fish sauce. It’s probably one of the rare occasions where I don’t use fish sauce in a Vietnamese dish.

I made two batches, one with fish sauce and the other without fish sauce to compare side by side. Both Mr. Delightful Plate and I voted for the one marinated without fish sauce.

What I learn is the fish sauce gives the pork chops a sour tinge and sharp taste, which makes the dish slightly less delicious. I will include both marinades in the recipe so that you can also compare yourself :).

Since my soy sauce and oyster sauce may not be the same as yours, taste and adjust the marinade to your liking.

Some people may add a small amount (around 1/2 – 1 teaspoon) of dark soy sauce to get a darker color on these grilled pork chops. I also tried that and found that despite small quantity, the dark soy sauce still alters the flavors in a way I don’t really like.


I use honey and feel that it makes the pork chops look glossy and delicious. You can use sugar in place of honey. Just taste to make sure you like it.

Grilling the pork chops

It’s undeniable that the pork chops taste best when grilled on a charcoal grill. Nevertheless, they are still absolutely delicious when we use a gas grill or grill pan.

If you use thin-cut chops as I recommend, grill them with direct high heat. I cook them with my Staub grill pan, and with high heat, it takes only 1 to 1 1/2 minute to cook each side and get the grill marks. Serve the pork chops hot with rice, a fried egg and vegetables for an easy dinner.

I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates.

How to Cook Pork on the Grill?

The guidelines for cooking pork have changed significantly in the last decade, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service now saying whole-muscle cuts of the meat, including chops, can be safely consumed once they have been cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees and rested for three minutes. That’s down from the previously recommended internal temperature of 160 degrees, so your grilled pork chops will likely be pinker than the cuts you chowed on as a kid. But, if you use a meat thermometer to ensure the chops reach 145 degrees, they’ll be tender, juicy, and grilled to perfection.

When you’re at your store’s butcher counter or cold case, look for chops with a uniform thickness so they will cook evenly on the grill. Many grill masters also prefer pork chops on the thicker side because they are less likely to overcook. Again, a meat thermometer is a must, especially if you’re unaccustomed to cooking and serving pinker pork.

And pork’s cooking guidelines aren’t the only things that have changed. Pork farmers have modified their livestock management practices to make pork leaner, cutting total fat by 16 percent on average from 20 years ago and slashing saturated fat by an average of 27 percent in seven of the most common cuts of pork, including chops. In fact, pork chops now have less total fat and saturated fat than skinless chicken thighs and pork tenderloin has about the same fat content as boneless chicken breasts, according to data from the USDA.

Go ahead and grill guilt free. (Or maybe indulge in a second helping of mac and cheese.)

Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon Recipe - Recipes

Ingredients for Grilled Pork Ba'nh Mi Sandwich:

Vietnamese individual-sized baguette bread or regular French baguette bread

Vietnamese lemongrass grilled pork ( see recipe below)

Serrano or Jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

A few dashes of soy sauce, to taste

Spicy mayonnaise. optional ( see recipe below)

Sunny-Side up eggs ( optional)

1. Begin by making your pickling mixture. You can do this ahead of time. Drain well before using on sandwiches.

2. S lice the baguettes open lengthwise, leaving one side of the bread as a hinge.

3. S pread the inside of each baguette with mayo. Add layers of meat, put in the toaster oven for about 5 minutes.

4. Then add pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, cilantro sprigs, Serrano peppers and sunny-side up egg. Sprinkle with soy sauce and serve.

*To make the Sriracha mayo, mix together the mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl and set aside

Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork:

4 slices center-cut pork chops, bone in

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, minced

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

*Marinate pork chops with all ingredients for 2-4 hours. Grilled over hot charcoal, or oven broiler.

8. Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Sweet, plump, and savory, shrimp is a gift from the sea. You won&rsquot want this treasure to go to waste, so make sure you cook it right. Give it the best treatment by using this recipe.

Marinated in lemon, herbs, and garlic, and grilled to perfection, these shrimp skewers are lip-smackingly delicious.

It doesn&rsquot take long to cook this dish. Just 20 minutes, and it&rsquos ready to serve. So, if you&rsquore looking for a quick and easy glorious meal, this is the one for you.

Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops

Vietnamese cooks love thin pork chops because the chops pick up seasonings quickly, cook fast, and taste great—perfect for a weeknight meal. Sold at many supermarkets, the skinny chops have either a curved rib bone or T-shaped bone. An edge of fat and marbling signal good flavor. You can marinate the pork many ways, but lemongrass is a signature Viet flavor.

Serve these chops with rice and grilled vegetables season the veggies with leftover marinade, salt, pepper, and oil and then add to the grill. Add a side of pickle for tangy crunch. To make the marinade without a food processor, mince the garlic and shallot, transfer to a large bowl, and mix with 3 tablespoons grated or minced lemongrass (or lemongrass paste) and the remaining ingredients.

11 Ways to Eat Watermelon for Every Meal

Summer watermelon is extremely easy to dice thanks to kitchen whiz Justin Chapple&rsquos latest Mad Genius tip, but it&rsquos also super versatile and can be incorporated into any breakfast, lunch or dinner dish. Here, eleven excellent ways to serve up your perfectly diced watermelon any time of the day:

Summer watermelon is extremely easy to dice thanks to kitchen whiz Justin Chapple’s latest Mad Genius tip, but it’s also super versatile and can be incorporated into any breakfast, lunch or dinner dish. Here, nine excellent ways to serve up your perfectly diced watermelon any time of the day:

Sheet Pan Mustard-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

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