Nem nuong embodies the perfect balance of meatiness, spiciness, sweetness and saltiness. The rich, savory bacon and the warm spices of cinnamon and star anise in the five – spice powder pair beautifully with the fresh, lively herbs. This recipe requires forming the s ausages like little kebabs around a skewer. However, the pork mixture can also be stuffed into sausage casings.


Pork Skewers

  • 3cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2large red Asian shallots, finely chopped
  • 3bacon belly rashers (slices), finely chopped
  • 1 pound (450 g) 20% fat ground pork (see Tip)
  • 2 tablespoons (6 g) five-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons (18 g) cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) honey
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) rice bran, canola or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fish sauce
  • 1tablespoon (15 ml) light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice wine

Spicy Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

  • 1 tablespoon (12 g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fish sauce
  • 1small bird’s eye chili, thinly sliced
  • 1clove garlic, thinly sliced

Serving Suggestions

  • Vermicelli noodles, soaked in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes and drained
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Fresh Vietnamese mint stems and leaves
  • Fresh cilantro stems and leaves
  • Spring onions, cut into 3-to 4-inch (7.5-to 10-cm) pieces
  • Rice paper

How to Make It

Step 1

Soak 10 to 12 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes

Step 2

Make the skewers: Combine the garlic, shallots and bacon in a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix the ingredients well, then pr ocess continuously until a coarse paste forms

Step 3

Transfer the paste to a large bowl. Add the pork, five – spice powder, cornstarch, honey, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the oil, fish sauce, soy sauce and rice wine. Use your hands to mix the ingredients thoroughly, squeezing and pressing the mixture firmly as you go, for at least 10 minutes, until everything is uniformly combined and the pork becomes smooth and tacky

Step 4

Preheat the grill to medium – high heat (400 to 450°F [204 to 232°C])

Step 5

Measure out 1 to 2 tablespoo ns (15 to 30 g) of the pork mixture and form it into a tight ball. Then squeeze the ball into a sausage shape about 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) long, and push a skewer through the center of the meat. Repeat this process with the remaining pork mixture.

Step 6

Use the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of oil to brush each of the sausages. Grill them for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until they are brown and cooked through.

Step 7

Make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Mix in the lime juice, fish sauce, chili and garlic. Store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Chef’s Notes

Note that 20 percent fat is the minimum amount of fat necessary for this recipe

Reprinted with permission from Sweet, Savory, Spicy by Sarah Tiong, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020.

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