Vietnamese Pork on Skewers

(Photo by joshbousel/Flickr)
(Photo by joshbousel/Flickr)

So popular is this dish that in some Vietnamese butcher shops the lean pork paste mixed with pieces of pork fat is sold by weight, making it easier for the home cook. In some shops, it is already seasoned.

Serves 6.


500 g/1 lb lean boneless pork
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons rice wine or dry sherry
90 g/3 oz pork fat
1 tablespoon melted lard
1 tablespoon roasted ground rice
2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 hot red chillies
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lemon
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon water
shreds of carrot (optional)

For serving
500 g/1 lb fresh rice noodles
or 125 g/4 oz dried rice noodles
1 lettuce
sprigs of fresh coriander or mint
garlic, chilli and fish sauce (nuoc cham)


Cut the pork fillet into small dice. Crush garlic with salt and sugar to a smooth paste, mix with wine or sherry, pour over the pork and mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes.

In a food processor pulse the meat to a smooth paste. Remove to a bowl. Cut pork fat into thin slices, then into small squares. Mix in pork fat, lard, ground rice and fish sauce. Knead mixture well, form small balls or sausage shapes and mould them onto bamboo skewers, squeezing them on very firmly. Barbecue over coals or under a griller, at a good distance from the source of heat so they are well done before the outside is browned. Turn the skewers every few minutes to ensure the meat cooks on all sides.

To make the sauce, pound chillies with a small clove of garlic, a teaspoon of sugar and a peeled lemon. Add all other ingredients. Mix well and if liked add a few fine shreds of carrot.

Slice fresh rice noodles and steam them, or cook dried rice noodles in boiling water until tender. Do not overcook. Drain. Serve skewers of pork with well-washed and dried lettuce separated into leaves, the noodles, and a small bunch of fresh coriander or mint.

Each person assembles his own snack. A leaf of lettuce is topped with a few rice noodles, some of the barbecued pork, a sprig of fresh coriander or mint and rolled up to form a neat roll. Serve the sauce for dipping rolls before eating.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)