A month or so ago my co-workers and I went to a great Vietnamese restaurant to celebrate Carolyn’s birthday. I ordered something that came with a skewer of pork deliciousness. I knew I had to make something like it. After all, we enjoyed the pork skewers I made a couple of years ago. Why haven’t I cooked skewers since them???
So, I went hunting on the internet. I knew I wanted to use pork tenderloin and two ingredients would likely be fish sauce and lemongrass so that helped me narrow my search. I found a nice recipe on myrecipes.com for Vietnamese pork tenderloin. In looks like the recipe comes originally from Steven Raichlen (barbecue/grilling expert) in the July 2012 edition of Cooking Light.
This recipe is actually for pork wraps – which I didn’t want to cook but the pork is pretty much the same for skewers – though I used larger chunks of pork. I sometimes have problems with the web versions of the recipes; there are usually at least two or three components for the dish (marinade, dipping sauce, etc) but the ingredients are just written in a straight line making it a bit difficult to manage where one component ends and another begins. So I adapted the recipe – keeping the ingredients the same – to print in a more readable format you can find here.
We start with the marinade. Note that I doubled the recipe for this cook.
The solids are roughly chopped by 1-second pulses in a food processor.
Then we add the liquids while the food processor is running. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough for my two 1-pound pork tenderloins – which I chopped into 1-inch pieces. But it was the perfect amount. Then the marinade and pork goes into a sealed zip lock bag for 2-4 hours. I think pork can get a bit mushy if brined too long, so I don’t recommend more than 4 hours. You’ll see on the myrecipes.com site the pork is cut into very small pieces. I followed my process from 2015 and using the 1-inch chunks.
While the meat was marinating, I created some vegetable skewers with red and yellow bell peppers, chunks of Walla-Walla sweet onions and cherry tomatoes.
Notice the skewers are flat. This helps SO much; I found that round skewers tend to spin inside the “skewies” [to make up a word] rather than flipping the ingredients on the grill. These are Weber skewers. These are part of the Weber Elevations System which allows you to grill without burning things on the grill itself.
I keep my vegetables and meat separate when I grill because the vegetables can do with a bit more time over the heat to caramelize the sugars. The vegetables aren’t in the printed recipe. Just cut things into 1-inch chunks and skewer away.
I still had plenty of time so I made the dipping sauce.
I was delighted with this dipping sauce – I’ve seen sauces in recipes with a bit of grated carrot. So this sauce was one of the reasons I went with this recipe. When I make it again I’ll grade the carrots even finer. You don’t have to separate the liquids in individual containers, I just have these and figured this picture was a perfect occasion to use them. Combine the carrots and sugar and rest for 10 minutes then whisk everything together.
Now we are getting ready to cook – so we skewer the pork bits. and head out to the grill where I cooked the vegetables on the lower level for a few minutes – until they picked up some char. Then move them to the upper level and cook the pork on the lower.
I have a couple of skewer-grilling tips.
- The vegetables got a bit more charred than I planned; so I brushed a bit of olive oil on them. In the future I’ll brush the oil on before they go on the grill.
- Get some heat resistant gloves – those skewers get REAL hot. I used Ov-Gloves but got toasty fingers before I could flip the five meat skewers. On Amazon Prime day I bought these Premium Men’s Silicone Gloves. They are BEASTS. Haven’t used them yet. I’ll let you know.
I cooked 4-minutes per side flipping twice or maybe three times. The National Pork Board says tenderloin should be cooked to 145° (medium-rare) – 160° (medium). I can’t give you a time because your grill and setup will be different. Remember that the skewers help cook them from the inside so keep an eye on them.
Dinner was served
Verdict: ★★★★ We enjoyed this. I think brushing the vegetables with olive oil before grilling and cooking a the pork a smidgen less will make this dish even better.