Most of us are used to this pork being chopped into bite sized pieces and served over rice noodles as part of the delicious 'bun' served in Vietnamese restaurants. For the purposes of this exercise we decided to serve larger pieces over rice - that way we get to eat more pork. So, I asked our expert about how we get that salty / sweet, delicious taste on the Vietnamese pork and this is what he said:
"Take some soy sauce, add sugar until it tastes like the salt and sugar are balanced. Add some honey. Black pepper for some kick, garlic - so it tastes good - and some oil. Let the pork sit in the mixture for at least an hour - more is better. Grill the pork over a hot barbecue and brush some of the mixture (that you saved before you marinated the pork in it) on the pork while you're grilling." Vague enough for you? Me too. So, in the name of quantification here's what I decided to do:
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Cloves chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped ginger
1 Cup soy sauce
1 Star anise pounded
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
1 Teaspoon black pepper1 pound of pork loin cut as thin as possible
Assemble your ingredients.
Be careful of any unwanted assistance.
Smash your star anise pods (this is easily my favorite part - the kitchen smells great when you do this).
Finely chop your garlic and ginger.
Mix all the ingredients (other than the pork) in a bowl and mix well.
Pour 2/3 of the marinade into freezer bags with the pork. Save the remaining 1/3 of the marinade for basting while you're grilling.
Grill the pork over high heat. Don't turn your back on it, this isn't slow roasting. When the pork loin is thin like this it only takes minutes to cook. Baste with the reserved sauce while you're grilling.
Top with some ground peanuts and cilantro and enjoy. In our case we served over a bed of coconut rice with grilled chayote squash and some vegetables I'd never heard of (and won't buy again) that I bought at the Asian supermarket.