Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Restaurant Cooked Meals vs. Home Cooked Meals

When comparing Home cooked meals and Restaurant cooked meals, you will notice that they will never be the same in taste or appearance. Which brings me to this blog entry for Vietnamese dish.
I decided to grill pork steaks – pork shoulder steaks to be exact as they’re much more flavorful and fattier than the typical thin, dry loin chop used for Vietnamese grilled pork.
Restaurant food is not the same as home cooking. Restaurant food is generally a lot sweeter and saltier than homemade food. The reason? The bolder flavors get customers to drink and eat more; it’s a Pavlovian thing. People also love to indulge in big flavors when they go out, so it’s a push and pull dynamic with restaurant dining.
With regard to Vietnamese restaurant cooking, there’s usually a smidgen of MSG added to food for good measure. I don’t use MSG (real or fake MSG), but I decided to go heavy on the seasonings in this pork marinade. Also, as mentioned above, I used succulent pork shoulder instead of dryish pork chop – which most Vietnamese restaurants use to my dismay. And, I grilled the pork over an open flame for nice charring and flavor. Lost of Vietnamese restaurants broil and the flavor is rather flat. Soy sauce adds color here, and if you use dark (black/thick) soy sauce (called hac xi dau in Vietnamese), the meat will take on a mahogany cast.

grilled lemongrass pork

Vietnamese Restaurant-Style Grilled Lemongrass Pork
Thit Heo Nuong Xa

1 pound boneless pork shoulder steak, about 1/2 inch thick
1 ½ to 2 tbsp. granulated or light brown sugar
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 tbsp. chopped shallot or yellow onion
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped (3 tbsp.)
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 ½ tsp. dark soy sauce
1 ½ tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. oil
Cut the pork shoulder steak into pieces about 3 to 4 inches big. Set aside.
Put the sugar, garlic, shallot and lemongrass into a processor and process to a fine texture. (Or, mince the garlic, shallot, and lemongrass individually, put them into a bowl, and add the sugar.) Add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil and process to combine well. Aim for a relatively smooth texture. The marinade will be chocolate brown. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the pork, and turn to coat well. Cover and set aside at room temperature to marinate for 1 hour. Or, refrigerate up to 24 hours, letting the meat sit out at room temperature for 45 minutes to remove some of the chill before grilling.
Preheat a grill to medium-high. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. Nick with a knife to test. Transfer to a plate, loosely cover with foil or an inverted bowl for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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