Extra (Ap)Petite: Vietnamese Pork (for bowls, lettuce wraps, sandwiches)

vietnamese grilled pork thit nuong banh mi recipe

We don’t cook pork often, but my friends convinced us to try this popular Vietnamese grilled pork (thit nuong) and we’ve already made it 2x since! The pork is marinated until tender and flavorful, and when cooked on high heat, the coating caramelizes and gets a nice sear. You can enjoy it over a rice or vermicelli noodle bowl, lightened up inside a lettuce wrap, or in a banh mi style sandwich!

Pork Recipe

This recipe is very forgiving in terms of modifications, based on what you have at home. I tapped into my Vietnamese friends’ family recipe archives, and while everyone makes it differently (i.e. oyster sauce vs fish sauce, honey vs sugar), the approximate ratio of sweet to savory to aromatics in the marinade is generally similar.

This is also freezer friendly for quick meals – simply freeze uncooked meat with marinade in a ziploc bag, and put it in your fridge 1 day prior to slowly thaw before cooking.

how to season Vietnmese style bbq pork

Print Recipe
4.82 from 27 votes

VIETNAMESE PORK (FOR BOWLS, LETTUCE WRAPS, SANDWICHES)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork preferably pork shoulder *
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar or 2.5 Tbs honey
  • 2 Tablespoons regular soy sauce or 2 teaspoons “dark” or “thick” soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce and/or oyster sauce I do half & half
  • 1.5 Tablespoons neutral cooking oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 to 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 stalk minced lemongrass ** see note – we never have any
  • Optional: minced shallot or onion jalapeno/chili pepper or red pepper flakes

Rice or Vermicelli Bowl Topping Ideas

  • cilantro
  • crushed peanuts
  • Nuoc cham sauce
  • quick pickles

Banh Mi Sandwich Filling Ideas

  • Generous spread of mayo we love Kewpie mayo from the Asian grocery
  • Pate is tasty and traditional, if you have it on hand
  • Pork, cucumber spears, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapenos

Instructions

  • Chop + mix together all the marinade ingredients. If you have a food processor, you can put the garlic, shallot, and lemongrass all in together to chop finely.
  • Slice the pork to about 1/4″ thick pieces and pound with a mallet if you have one (with a layer of saran wrap or parchment paper in between).
  • Coat the pork well in the marinade, and refrigerate for 2 hours to 24 hours, stirring once in between.
  • To cook the pork, grilling in a basket is ideal. As we don’t have a grill, we’ve been making these 2 other ways that work well!

Easy-cleanup broil

  • Pre-heat your broiler oven while placing the pork slices on a foil lined baking sheet, making sure not to overlap the pieces. Once the broiler is ready, place the baking sheet on a high rack and broil with the oven door cracked open, until the pork pieces develop a nice sear on top. This takes about 6-7 minutes and no flipping of the meat is needed! Note: handle carefully as the broiler gets very hot, and don’t re-use the same piece of foil for multiple batches as the sugar in the marinade will burn.

Pan sear

  • Heat a frying pan to medium high heat with a little oil. Once the oil is hot, place the pork in the pan, flipping occasionally to make sure both sides get evenly browned and seared (about 4 to 5 minutes per side). Personally I liked the caramelization better from pan searing, but it’s hard to beat the ease of the foil-lined broil method!

Notes

* Pork with more fat and marbling is ideal, as the fat will help with caramelization on high heat and keep the meat juicy. “Pork butt” is a misnomer as it also comes from shoulder. If you must use pork chops, dark meat is preferred and definitely no need to trim off the fat. We’ve also made this with regular pork chops sliced small, and while it was still good, it’s definitely better with a fattier cut.
** Lemongrass stalks can be found at Asian + most larger grocery stores like Whole Foods, and freezes well for later use.  You can skip, or use the juice from 1/2 of a lime (or lemon) – it’s not the same flavor, but citrus in marinade helps tenderize meat so doesn’t hurt.

vietnamese bbq pork recipe

Ways to Enjoy This Pork

1. Rice or vermicelli bowl


Topping ideas:

  • Cilantro
  • Crushed peanuts
  • Nuoc cham sauce (we followed this recipe and enjoyed it)
  • Quick pickles – we’ve made so many versions of this! One of our go-to recipes is to slice 2 mini cucumbers (into either circular discs or spears) and place in a well stirred mixture of 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 3-4 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon fish sauce. Shake the container and refrigerate. These are ready to eat in about 10 minutes but don’t wait more than a few hours (hence the “quick” aspect), otherwise they can become too strongly flavored. If you want to make these ahead for eating more than a few hours later, add 3-4 tablespoons of water in to dilute the pickling liquid.

delicious vietnamese bbq pork bowl recipe

2. Lettuce Wraps

Using romaine lettuce hearts, with cucumber spears, cilantro, and good ole nuoc cham sauce again.

how to make a banh mi sandwich

3. Banh Mi Sandwich

This was so delicious and definitely hit the spot. The right bread is typically important, but as we don’t have a lot of choices these days, I used my “take & bake” half baked baguettes from the Whole Foods freezer section which worked pretty well. For a moist inside yet crisp outer to the frozen bread, I first microwave it about 1-2 minutes, then finish in the oven or air fryer for about 5 minutes.

Fillings:

  • Generous spread of mayo (we love Kewpie mayo from the Asian grocery)
  • Pate is tasty and traditional, if you have it on hand
  • Pork, cucumber spears, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapenos

The pickled carrots sticks or “do chua” can be labor intensive to cut up, but friends tell me they also like a simplified version of using a vegetable peeler and peeling small ribbons of cucumber and carrots. Or, you can use a julienne tool (careful with your fingers!).

PS – if you’re craving Vietnamese cold cut sandwiches but don’t have access to those speciality deli meats, I’ve been indulging a bit in sliced mortadella from American grocery stores, sandwiched in toasted white bread but with traditional banh mi toppings (the pickled carrots here is key) – pretty tasty!!

For more easy meal ideas, check out our other Extra (Ap)Petite posts!

I know several of you enjoy making thit nuong at home – let me know how you make your marinade and cook the meat!

Leave a Comment

24 Comments

  1. Jen wrote:

    Asian stores have chopped up lemongrass in the frozen section if you always want to have some on-hand. It’s called Xa Bam.

    Posted 6.2.20 Reply
  2. Karin Woodman wrote:

    The classic recipe uses a “caramel sauce” that is sugar boiled with water until it becomes quite dark but not burned. Honey or brown sugar are great substitutes though won’t give it that sweet umami flavor. Every Vietnamese woman of my mom’s generation has a little jar of this black gold in the kitchen!

    Posted 5.20.20 Reply
  3. Sharon wrote:

    5 stars
    Delicious and non-complicated recipe. Also, have many options to use it with.

    Posted 5.10.20 Reply
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    5 stars
    Quick, easy, and so delicious!

    Posted 5.10.20 Reply
  5. Susan wrote:

    I made the quick pickles tonight and they are delicious!!! Can you reuse the sauce?

    Posted 5.9.20 Reply
  6. Alice wrote:

    5 stars
    This recipe is great, thanks Jean! I’ve used it multiple times for steak tips, chicken thighs, and salmon.

    Posted 5.8.20 Reply
  7. Alex wrote:

    5 stars
    LOVE this marinade! We used this pork first for banh mis, then mixed into simple noodle bowls.

    Posted 5.6.20 Reply
  8. Christine wrote:

    Would pork tenderloin work for this? That’s all I have, although it’ll be lean and I agree the more fat the better!

    Posted 5.2.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Christine – because of the low fat content I don’t think pork tenderloin would be ideal. Though I suppose these days we’re all using whatever we’re able to find, so if you do try it you’ll have to let me know how it turns out!

      Posted 5.4.20 Reply
  9. Sewy wrote:

    Made this grilled pork with vermicelli, a warm salad and some cabbage kimchi. Was a huge hit among my family members — they finished the meat I had initially doubled the portion for dinner 😂 Thanks for sharing another excellent recipe, Jean!

    Posted 4.26.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      That sounds delicious – I’m so glad it was such a hit with your family! x Jean

      Posted 5.4.20 Reply
  10. anita wrote:

    hi, really looking forward to trying this recipe. would it be possible for you to provide an abbreviated version (recipe only, photos) for printing? thanks!

    Posted 4.20.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Anita, we’re working on figuring out how to format our recipe posts to make them printer-friendly, thank you for the suggestion! x Jean

      Posted 4.21.20 Reply
  11. Marisa wrote:

    Jean – your marinade was amazing! I didn’t have pork so I used tofu for banh mi sandwiches and it was delicious. I marinated for a little less than 2 hours because my husband and I were too hungry to wait, but it was delicious. I made your garlicky noodles (with shrimp) two days ago and my husband is obsessed. He asked where I got the marinade for the tofu and I told him both dishes were your recipes. He said you’re 2 for 2 and to put this in our regular rotation. Thanks so much! 🙂

    Posted 4.18.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Marisa! I’m glad you and your husband are both enjoying the Extra (Ap)Petite recipes 🙂 It’s good to know that swapping in tofu was successful, we’ll have to give that a try sometime. x Jean

      Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  12. May wrote:

    Thank you for this! Ive been wanting to cook this for a while but like you, have no grill. Also, thanks for all the cooking/lifestyle post. Since we are all stuck at home for the most part, I really appreciate your non clothing posts as it is more relatable and applicable for our current life. Thanks and please post more recipes!!!

    Posted 4.17.20 Reply
    • May wrote:

      Also, im going to try this in an air fryer… hopefully it works!

      maybe you can share grocery list and meal planning??? thank you thank you!

      Posted 4.17.20 Reply
      • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

        Hi May, thank you for your kind message! I’m curious to hear how this works in the air fryer, you’ll have to let me know! x Jean

        Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  13. Morgan wrote:

    I think this may be a really dumb question, but do you have trouble getting oyster sauce out of the bottle or is there a magic secret? I just opened some the other day that’s in a similar bottle, and I could not for the life of me get any out because it was so thick, and the neck of the bottle was so small.

    Posted 4.16.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Morgan! I actually store my oyster sauce upside down in the fridge to help with this issue – just be careful when you open it (don’t open it while upside down) because the sauce will come right out! x Jean

      Posted 4.17.20 Reply
      • M Curry wrote:

        Try turning the bottle sideways and poke with a butter knife or a single chopstick. When the sauce is about half-full, I trickle in some very warm water, a bit at a time, cover, and shake well until I get the right viscosity. The sauce will taste the same but be a bit more manageable. Just be sure to keep it in the fridge.

        Posted 4.20.20 Reply
  14. DoAnn wrote:

    Amazing! Being Vietnamese, I’ve been wanting to try to make banh mi so thank you for making it so simple! Can’t wait to try it. Hope you guys are doing well!

    Posted 4.16.20 Reply
  15. Mireia wrote:

    It looks so delicious!

    Mireia from TGL

    Posted 4.16.20 Reply
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    This looks yummy and easy to do! It’ll be a great addition to my limited meal ideas during the shelter in place mandate.

    Posted 4.16.20 Reply

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