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Garlic Lemongrass Marinade For Pork

Garlic Lemongrass Marinade For Pork
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

I think the ideal cut for this is thin-cut pork chops with the bone in, but if they're not available, you can use boneless chops. If you can only get thick cuts, no need to worry — just slice them sideways into thin cuts with your knife. (This is easier if they're slightly frozen. It's impossible, of course, if they're bone-in.) The marinade is adapted from Corinne Trang's Essentials of Asian Cuisine (Simon & Schuster 2003).

Makes 4 to 6 servings, 1 recipe's worth of marinade. Can be doubled, tripled, etc.

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup fish sauce

2 lemongrass stalks, root ends trimmed, outer leaves and tough green tops removed, and 6-inch-long inner bulbs finely ground

2 large garlic cloves, crushed, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 to 3 pounds thin-cut (1/2-inch or less) pork chops, center-cut or sirloin, bone-in or boneless

Whisk together the sugar and fish sauce in a bowl until well combined. Stir in the lemongrass, garlic and oil until evenly distributed.

Use only the inner part of the lemongrass stalk, which is usually soft enough to grate. If even that is too tough to work with, you have a couple of options: 1. Chop it up coarsely with the garlic and put in the plastic bag, then crush with the flat side of a meat mallet until they release their aroma, or 2. Chop it coarsely and place in a blender with the garlic and the fish sauce, and pulse until it's just short of a paste.

Place the marinade into a gallon-size zip-top freezer bag and then add the chops. Zip it shut, squeezing out as much air as possible. Massage the bag briefly to distribute the marinade evenly over the meat. Marinate at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Preheat the grill until very hot. If using gas, heat only one side of the burners. If using charcoal, place the charcoals all to one side. When the grill is hot, start grilling the meat in batches over the hottest part of the grill. Sear the meat until nicely browned on both sides, but don't let the flames flare up and char the meat. When the meat is browned, move it to the unheated side of the grill until you're ready to serve.

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