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Vietnamese lemongrass pork chops (Suon nuong)

One thing food can do is to bring back childhood memories. This dish does that for me, bringing back the memories of childhood as one of my favorite dish from my mom. She used to grill marinated pork chops on a charcoal grill for Sunday lunches and they are the best! It is one of the best childhood meal and memories I want to pass on to my children.

Though not the quickest recipe, you can make this for Sunday dinner and have plenty of leftover to start the week. I added my twist to her traditional recipe by making it in the air fryer (much faster and doable in the winter) and replaced 100% sweetener in the recipe with coconut aminos.

Don't worry, you won't miss the sugar at all. It is as close as the best traditional version I have tried! This recipe also happen to be Paleo and allergy- friendly. If you don't eat pork, try the marinade with chicken thighs, steak, salmon or firm tofu.

Vietnamese lemongrass pork chops


- 3.5lbs pork loin, slice into 2cm or 3/4 inch

- 6 cloves of garlic, minced

- 2 tbsp minced lemongrass

- 6 tbsp coconut aminos

- 2 tbsp fish sauce (Red Boat brand)

Marinade at least 30 mins to 2 hours for pork loin/chops and chicken thighs. Steak, salmon and tofu is ok with 30 mins.

Preheat the air fryer for 2 mins. Spray the frying basket with some avocado oil spray. Add 1 layer of pork chops and air fry for 12 minutes at 390F. If your air fryer starts smoking, add some water at the bottom outer pan.

Green onion relish:

- 1 bunch of green onion

- 2 tbsp olive oil

- A dash of salt

Cut green onions into small pieces and add to a ceramic bowl, add olive oil, salt and microwave for 30 secs to 1 mins (depending on the microwave) until the green onion is just cooked through.

Seasoned fish sauce:

- 2 tbsp fish sauce (I like Red Boat)

- 2 tbsp coconut sugar

- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice

- 8 tbsp water

- 1 garlic clove, minced

- Optional - 1 Thai chili, minced for spicy

Add all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until the sugar is diluted.

Pickled daikon:

- 1 big daikon

- 1 carrot

- Salt and rice vinegar

Peel the daikon and carrot and shred to thin strips using a mandolin shredder. Add some salt and vinegar and massage the vegetables. Let sit for 10 mins so the vegetables releases their juice.

After 10 mins, run the daikon and carrot under water and squeeze all the juice out. After squeezing, add the vegetables back to a mixing bowl. Add 3 tbsp of the season fished sauce, and 1 tbsp vinegar to the vegetables. Mix up and serve.

Pickled daikon & carrot can stay fresh in the fridge for 5 days. You can make extra and serve on sandwiches, rice noodle, or as a side dish to any weekday meal.

Rice: traditionally this dish is served with small broken rice. It is hard to find broken rice in the US, so I made a mix of rice and quinoa in the 1:1 ratio instead. This way I still get the flavor of rice and the small texture from quinoa, plus the added protein and lower glycemic index of quinoa!

Serving: add some rice to the bottom, add onion relish on top of the rice and meat. Add pickled daikon and fresh cucumber and tomato, and drizzle everything with the seasoned fish sauce. YUMMMM! Enjoy!

Confession: as I have been practicing mindful eating, I notice myself overeating this meal when my spiritual nutrition (aka human connection) is deficient. To nourish what I am truly hungry for, I picked up the phone and Facetime mom instead :).

As a transformational nutrition coach, I define nutrition as everything that feed us, physically, mentally and spiritually. Food is connection because it can bring back memories, but sometimes we try to use food to fill other hunger or to numb emotions we want to avoid. I am on my journey to increase more awareness around food and want to be transparent on my health journey in the hope that my story will help others.

Comment below if you considered yourself a foodie, or if this dish is your comfort food too!

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, and is not intended as medical advice.


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