Vietnamese BBQ Pork with Lemongrass (Bun Thit Nuong)

This fabulous Vietnamese dish is an umami bomb explosion of flavors. The contrast between the fire charred pork and the crunchy peanuts and the garden fresh lettuce and veggies with the luscious spicy sweet and sour dipping sauce is so exotic it’s just other worldly. Legendary in Vietnam as the ultimate street food, this is one of our absolute favorite dishes using pork. Give this one a whirl, it will transport you to an amazing umami world!  Enjoy!

Marinade for Pork

2 pounds pork shoulder, (sliced about 1/4 inch thick and 2-3 inches long, just large enough so they won’t fall through a wire mesh BBQ basket, or use skewers for hibachi)
5 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 1/2 inch ginger, shredded
3 shallots, minced (we use the food processor)
1 cup lemongrass, finely minced (we cut 2 lemongrass roughly by hand, and then use a food processor to pulverize them)
1 tablespoon light golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons dark soy (Note: you can also use “thick soy”, or 2 tablespoons Tamari plus 1 teaspoon molasses)
1 tablespoon black pepper, ground
1 tablespoon salt (apply half to the raw pork, and half to the marinade)
2 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon mirin or 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons coconut oil or canola oil

Vermicelli rice noodles and vegetables

6 oz vermicelli
1 cup mint, served with whole leaves
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup cucumber, diced into matchstick size
I whole head of butter lettuce, leaves pulled apart
1 cup of both carrots and daikon (if you chose the traditional pickled style, place both carrot and daikon ahead in a bowl with 1 cup rice wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar or 1 tablespoon of mirin.)
3/4 cup unsalted raw peanuts, pan roasted till charred and then roughly crushed
4 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds, sprinkled onto each bowl

Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup mirin (or 2 tablespoons sugar)
1/2 cup lime juice
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 inch ginger, shredded
1 or 2 serrano peppers for a little heat

Prep Work

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a medium bowl. Once stirred together, heat gently in a small pan until they just begin to simmer and remove from heat. This will marry the oils, acids and sugars but keep the delicate fragrance.

Cut the pork into approximately the right size pieces (2 to 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick), cutting out the excess fat, salt them, and then place them in a one gallon zippered freezer bag.

Once the marinade is cooled off, pour in the marinade, push the air out of the bag, zip it closed and knead the marinade into the pork. Refrigerate for at least an hour or two, preferably over night

Boil two quarts of water, add the vermicelli rice noodles and simmer for eight minutes Strain, rinse with cold water, shake to loosen and set aside.

Gather all the fresh vegetables, place in separate bowls or apart on a platter, and set aside.

Combine all the ingredients for the dipping sauce and set aside.


Using a square metal mesh grilling basket, spread out the pork and lock down the two sides so that the meat is trapped and won’t slide around. Fire up the BBQ and when it’s at it’s highest heat inside, dial the flame back down to low/medium and grill both sides until the pork is fully seared and a bit charred, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. This will caramelize the sugars and the meat together.

If you are using the broiler, you can place the pork on skewers, and placing the skewers on a foil covered baking pan, sear them the same way.

Serve the hot BBQ pork on the vermicelli, with the vegetable in each bowl so each person can mix in what they like. The dipping sauce can be used for just dipping the meats or it can be drizzled over the meat and vermicelli and vegetable, mixing all together into one fabulous combination of amazingly layered flavors. Enjoy!