Vietnamese Pork Skewers (Paleo, AIP adaptable)
Hi friends! I’m assuming that you have your grills fired up (and if not, these are super easy to make indoors) so I wanted to remind you of these beautiful little flavor bombs, especially because fresh herbs and lettuces have popped up at farmers markets – yay! Make ’em spicy or make ’em AIP (autoimmune protocol-friendly); either way you’ll be so glad.
Heads up that I’m going to be doing a paleo/grain-free batch cooking class experiment in June/July. If you’re interested, we’re going to meet three Sunday afternoons. I’ll send YOU a shopping list, you’ll shop and bring your ingredients, we’ll all meet up at Kitchen in the Market, cook the same things together, and you’ll go home with enough food to put together a few lightning fast meals for the week. If you’re interested, send me a note here, and I’ll email you the info. There will be a reasonable charge, you can buy a glass of wine if you like, I’ll make a snack for when we gather, and I’m capping the class at 6 people. It’ll be super intimate and chatty and I’m really excited.
I hope you’re spending lots of time outside, raiding the farmers markets for the first fresh tastes of the season, and enjoying this gorgeous spring.
First published July 23, 2013:
How lovely was it to sleep with the windows open last night? This mid-July cool breeze is as welcome as pork on the grill, especially pork wrapped in butter lettuce leaves with the punch of fish sauce, chiles, mint, and fresh lime. Palates tingle and everyone sleeps well when refreshment abounds.
This dish comes together quickly enough for weeknight eats but is pretty enough to share with friends on the weekend. Perfect! Any crisp garden treat plays nicely with sizzling pork – I loaded up with radishes, cucumber, carrots, and scallions, but thinly sliced raw kohlrabi, beets, zucchini, spring onions, and/or garlic scapes – would all be gorgeous. Fresh mint, cilantro, and plenty of fresh lime pull everything together, as does the easy dipping sauce.For the best flavor, make sure to buy high-quality ground pork. If the pork is super lean, work a bit of coconut oil into the meat along with the seasonings. The goal is the pleasing contrast of hot, rich pork against raw, crisp vegetables.If you don’t have access to a grill, saute the skewers in a large skillet in a bit of coconut oil. Delicious that way, and then you can whisk coconut milk into the pan drippings to make a sauce for another dish – add chiles, fish sauce, sugar, and fresh lime. I use the sauce for an unforgettably creamy base for a Thai-style omelet, or I add it to a panful of ground beef, with plenty of scallions, and eat the beef rolled in more lettuce leaves. Waste not, want not when it comes to rich coconut-laced dishes.
Vietnamese Pork Skewers
Note: Can be made one day ahead; cover and refrigerate. AIP substitutions noted below.
1 lb. high-quality ground pork
3 Tbsp. gluten-free fish sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 serrano chile, minced (for AIP, substitue 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger)
2 scallions, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
coconut oil (a tablespoon or two if pork is quite lean)
3-inch skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 head butter lettuce, separated into leaves
1 cup each thinly-sliced or matchstick slices (mix-and-match) of radishes, daikon radishes, carrots, cucumbers, scallions, enoki mushrooms, or other seasonal vegetables
Fresh mint leaves
Dipping sauce (recipe below)
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Add all skewer ingredients to a large bowl. Using your hands, gently mix seasonings into the pork.
Press about 2 Tbsp. of pork around each of the skewers, forming a uniform cigar shape, leaving a bit of empty skewer at each end. (Bring to room temperature before grilling.)
Grill skewers until nicely browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Let skewers rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot rolled in lettuce leaves with garnishes and dipping sauce.
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 Tbsp. coconut aminos
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
1 fresh red chile, finely chopped (skip for AIP)
1 clove garlic, crushed
Stir together in a small bowl.