Monday, March 1, 2010

Vietnamese Caramelized Grilled Pork

Ok, I know what some of you are thinking: "Caramel? On a piece of pork? I dunno Mary."

But think about barbecue sauce for a second: it's got
brown sugar and molasses in it and we slather it on anything from chicken, to salmon, to beef.

The marinade for this pork is made from a simple caramel cooked with lime juice, fish sauce and shallots. The pork is left to marinate in the caramel for 30 minutes or so and then grilled. I've used this marinade on pork tenderloin and boneless country ribs (pictured). You want to use a cut that is thin and will cook relatively quickly, otherwise the sugar may burn and blacken before the pork is cooked through.

I served this with steamed jasmine rice, grilled eggplant and a carrot salad.

Vietnamese Caramelized Grilled Pork
Try this with chicken or jumbo shrimp too. This is fabulous the next day, sliced thin on a sandwich.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin, sliced into medallions, or boneless country ribs
Make the caramel: In a heavy skillet (preferably one that's light colored metal, so you can gauge the color of the caramel - this is hard to do in cast iron or in a non-stick pan) spread the sugar into an even layer. Turn the heat to medium high and watch the pan. In a few minutes, you'll start to see a little smoking and the sugar around the edge of the pan should start to melt. Shake the pan occasionally to keep the sugar melting evenly (the sugar will wrinkle, do not be concerned).

When the sugar is dark toasty brown, turn off the heat add the shallots, lime juice and fish sauce - the caramel will bubble up and sputter: watch your arms and fingers! With a wooden spoon, stir the liquid and shallots into the caramel. Turn the heat back on and stir gently until the liquid is incorporated into the sauce.

Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Pour the marinade over the pork in a ziploc bag. Seal the bag and rub the marinade over the meat. Set aside for 30 minutes while you preheat the grill.

Remove the pork from the marinade. Grill the pork over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes a side for thin medallions and about 4 minutes for thicker rib pieces. Cut in and check the doneness to be sure. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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