Quick Grilled Meals
With our current California heat wave, I decided to grill pork steaks – pork shoulder steaks to be exact as they’re much more flavorful and fattier than the typical thin, dry loin chop used for Vietnamese grilled pork. Someone recently requested that I post a recipe for the grilled pork that Vietnamese restaurants often prepare and serve with rice plates and the like. I have a running list of recipe requests but moved that one up to the top of my priority list. Maybe it’s because I was trying to bridge eating out for a week with cooking at home? Or was the weather dictating my cooking? Probably a bit of each so I set to the kitchen yesterday afternoon.
Replicating Vietnamese Restaurant Food
Restaurant food is not the same as home cooking. Restaurant food is generally a lot sweeter and saltier than homemade food. The reason? The bolder flavors get customers to drink and eat more; it’s a Pavlovian thing. People also love to indulge in big flavors when they go out, so it’s a push and pull dynamic with restaurant dining.
With regard to Vietnamese restaurant cooking, there’s usually a smidgen of MSG added to food for good measure. I don’t use MSG (real or fake MSG), but I decided to go heavy on the seasonings in this pork marinade. Also, as mentioned above, I used succulent pork shoulder instead of dryish pork chop – which most Vietnamese restaurants use to my dismay. And, I grilled the pork over an open flame for nice charring and flavor. Lost of Vietnamese restaurants broil and the flavor is rather flat. Soy sauce adds color here, and if you use dark (black/thick) soy sauce (called hac xi dau in Vietnamese), the meat will take on a mahogany cast.
As I sliced the juicy fragrant pork, we had to sample a few pieces to ensure doneness. Rory looked at me and said, “No matter where we eat, the best food is at home.”