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Seared Pork Chops with Broken Rice (Cơm tấm)

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Serves 4

Stands selling pork chops and broken rice dot any major city in Vietnam.  The pork chops are usually grilled, but it takes quite a bit of practice to master grilling them without drying them out. Try these two tricks to ensure juicy chops every time: brine the chops for a day or two, then quick-sear them in butter. The cooking times are for thin cut pork chops. If using thick-cut pork chops, sear, then put them in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the center reaches 145°F.


  • 4 bone-in pork chops (about ⅓” thick)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced lemongrass 
  • 4 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Nuoc Cham
    • ¼ cup Red Boat Fish Sauce
    • 1 tablespoon vinegar
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 Thai chili, minced
  • 4 – 6 cups cooked broken rice
  • Pickled Radishes



Marinate the pork chops.

    1. Into a food storage bag, add pork chops, minced garlic, lemongrass (see note), sugar, black pepper, sugar, and fish sauce.
    2. Squeeze as much air out as possible and seal the bag. Place the bag on a plate or tray and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

    Make the nuoc cham.

      1. Add fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 1 cup water to a small sauce pot. Bring mixture to a boil.
      2. Take the pot off the flame and add minced garlic and chilis.
      3. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

      Sear the pork chops.

        1. Over medium high heat, heat up a medium heavy-bottom 12” pan.  Add 3 tablespoons butter to the pan.  Once the butter starts to bubble and brown, add 2 pork chops to the pan (make sure they’re not too close to each other).  Sear the chops until browned (about 2-4 minutes), then flip and sear the other side for another 2-4 minutes.
        2. Transfer the chops to a platter.  Add 2 tablespoons water to deglaze the pan.  Use a silicone spatula to lift any bits stuck to the pan.  Reduce and pour the pan juices over the chops.
        3. Wipe the pan clean with a towel and repeat with the remaining chops.
        4. Serve pork chops over broken rice with Pickled Radishes.

          NOTE How to mince lemongrass : Remove the dry outer layers of the lemongrass.  Wash off any residual dirt. Chop and discard about ¼” of the lemongrass base.  With a very sharp knife, thinly slice the lemongrass into coins, the thinner the better. Continue slicing until halfway up the lemongrass stalk and discard the remaining top (the majority of the oils are in the bottom half of the stalk).  Chop the lemongrass coins into a fine mince.



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